Caron Butler: From Jail to the NBA in Five Years

Jason OSenior Analyst IApril 7, 2008

I recently wrote an article about the rough childhood of DJ Mbenga. Afterwards, I was curious to know about other players who have come from bad backgrounds who,made it to the NBA.

Washington Wizard Caron Butler is one such player.

Caron Butler was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin, where he suffered a tough childhood.

When Caron Butler was 16, it looked as though he would live his life mainly in prison. He had been arrested 15 times for minor offenses before his 15th birthday. Then Butler was sentenced to one year in prison for firearms and cocaine possession.

In most cases, youths that start their lives this way would end up living most of their life in prison or worse, dead. But not Caron Butler.

It was obvious from an early age that Butler had promise as a person and as a basketball player. But even though Butler was an impressive basketball player, like many kids in his neighborhood, he couldn’t make a name for himself except amongst the local police officers.

Once out of prison, Butler had a brief career at Washington Park High School. He then enrolled at Maine Central Institute, where Jim Calhoun offered him a scholarship to play at UConn. Butler played two seasons at UConn before declaring himself for the 2002 NBA Draft.

In his freshman season, he lead the Huskies in both scoring and rebounding, with 15.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game.

In his sophomore season, he was named co-Big East Player of the Year with Pittsburgh’s Brandin Knight and was a second-team All American after a season averaging 20.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Eight years after being released from prison, Caron Butler was picked 10th overall by the Miami Heat.

In 2004, Butler was part of the package that sent him to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal. After one season in LA, he was traded again to Washington for Kwame Brown and LaRon Profit.

He has played his best basketball since arriving in Washington. He is averaging a career best 19.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game, and he made the 2007 All-Star team as a reserve.

He is another one of many players that has had a rough road to the NBA, but has managed to make it despite his tough childhood.