Former NBA player Rasual Butler and his wife, American Idol alum Leah LaBelle, both died in a car accident early Wednesday, January 31, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office has confirmed. Butler was 38. LaBelle was 31.
TMZ reported that the former Miami Heat player lost control of his Range Rover at around 2 a.m. in Studio City, California, and then hit parking meters before the vehicle crashed into a wall. The car reportedly also flipped over.
Butler was first drafted by the Heat in 2002 and went on to play for the New Orleans Hornets, the L.A. Clippers, the Chicago Bulls, the Toronto Raptors, the Indiana Pacers, the Washington Wizards and the San Antonio Spurs during his 14-year NBA career. He is survived by daughter Raven Butler from a previous relationship. Belle, 31, came in 12th place during season 3 of American Idol in 2004 and was later signed to Epic Records.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) January 31, 2018
The athlete’s teams and celebrities who knew the pair took to social media to send out their condolences and to mourn the loss of the couple via Twitter and Instagram. “Rest easy my brother. See you when I get there!!!” basketball player Allen Iverson captioned a photo of Butler on Wednesday.
The Washington Wizards tweeted a message on their account: “We send our thoughts and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah. #DCFamily”
“That SMILE. That VOICE. That inside-out GLOW. My @leahlabelle. My sister. Woke up this morning and heard you were gone. This can’t be real,” singer JoJo wrote on Instagram. “And you and @rasualbutler8 ‘s relationship was SUCH A BEAUTIFUL LOVE TO WITNESS AND FEEL. Best friends, believers, partners. A love that survived so much. We want and need more from you both. I cannot accept that the two of you are gone.”
She added: “Leah, you are my sister. I love you. and I feel so fortunate that you were in my life. Sing with the angels in heaven. You were an angel on earth.”
Scroll down to see more messages from other NBA stars and people close to the couple.
Rest In Peace my brother #RasualButler
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) January 31, 2018
Rip to the homie Rasual Butler & his wife!! Condolences to the butler family & friends. Damn Bro
— Matt Barnes (@Matt_Barnes22) January 31, 2018
Leah. beautiful sister from another mister. You will NEVER EVER be forgotten. Your voice. Your spirit. Your light. Cannot comprehend what this loss means. Thinking about your unwavering faith in God brings me peace. I love you, forever angel. pic.twitter.com/ZqmNeHfuAb
— JoJo. (@iamjojo) January 31, 2018
So sad this morning to here about my friend and teammate RIP Rasual Butler appreciate the people around u because u never kno
— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) January 31, 2018
Rasual and i my rookie year in Miami. This was my first public appearance and i was nervous to go along—So Sual joined to make it easier on me. That’s who he was—A great individual that was always there for people when they needed him. Today is a sad day—Sual’s family, his wife’s family and his NBA family mourn the lost of a great man. R.I.P philly boy Rasual Butler!
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of Rasual and Leah. They will be missed. pic.twitter.com/djezmpHd5h
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 31, 2018
Incredibly sad news to hear about Rasual Butler and his wife Leah. Prayers to both of their families through this tough time.
— Kevin Love (@kevinlove) January 31, 2018
Rest In Peace Rasual Butler…
— Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) January 31, 2018