“He’s our best dresser, he doesn’t miss a practice, he doesn’t complain and really he’s been our most consistent guy.” That’s what Los Angeles Clippers Head Coach Vinny Del Negro learned about Caron Butler this season. But, there’s a lot more to Butler than just punctuality and fashion sense.
As a youngster growing up in Racine, Wisconsin, playing in the NBA seemed like an unattainable dream. He was arrested over a dozen times for various crimes before he was even fifteen years old. He says that the moment where he realized that he needed to make major changes in his life was when he watched his mother’s face as he drove away from her in the back of a squad car. He didn’t want to ever see that sadness in her eyes again. He moved to Maine to better himself and attend Maine Central Institute. There, he honed his basketball skills and earned a scholarship to play for Coach Jim Calhoun at the University of Connecticut.
After a three-year stint at UConn which culminated with being awarded co-Big East player of the year, he was the tenth overall pick by the Miami Heat in 2002. He spent 2002-2004 on the Heat before being traded to the Lakers in a deal that involved bringing Shaquille O’Neal to Miami. In what would become a trend in Butler’s career, he was traded again in 2005 to the Wizards. He had already averaged over 15 points two different times in his young career, but Washington is where Butler really hit his stride.
His first season with the Wizards, Butler averaged 17.6 points per game. He would increase that average every season until ’08-’09 and was an all-Star in ’07 and ’08. In 2010 he was traded to Dallas and, during the playoffs, averaged almost twenty points per game in helping the Mavericks win their first ever NBA Championship. After the season, he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers to join fellow All-Stars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The Clippers came up short, but Butler has high hopes for the the team in the future.
Caron Butler is more than just a devoted basketball player, though. He’s a proud father and loving husband. He was nice enough to answer a few questions for The Father Life about his family, the impact of being traded and his thoughts on the NBA finals.
TFL’s Chris Osburn: How do you juggle family and basketball?
Caron Butler: During the season, it is definitely difficult to juggle my basketball career and my family responsibilities. But I try to make up for it in the off-season. During the season they come to all the home games where I can spot them in the crowd and reminds me how important they are to me. In the off season, we become one unit and spend as much time as possible together with family time, vacations and visiting our extended families too. Basketball is my career, but my family is my life and without them, I wouldn’t be where I am on or off the court.
TFL: Tell me about life on the road. Does your family ever travel with you?
CB: My family does not travel with me on the road but it something I am used to by now. This year was really tough with the shortened season which included a lot of back to back trips to different cities. But it is part of my job and something I am used to by now. It is hard to be on the road by myself when there is so much going on when I am home with all of my daughters and their non-stop energy. But my wife Andrea does a great job of sending me photos and messages from all of them that helps me while I am away.
TFL: You’ve moved around quite a bit the last few seasons. How does moving around affect you and your family?
CB: We have moved from Washington, to Dallas to Los Angeles all in the last three years. Before that we moved from Miami to Los Angeles and then to Washington. That was a bit easier because we didn’t have kids then. Now it is a bit more difficult having to relocate with my three young daughters (Mia age 8, Ava age 2, Gia 6 months) but we have gotten used to it by now. Where I go, they go. It means a lot to me have my family close and with me. My wife understood early on that playing for one team or another was part of the job description. It can be tough at times, particularly for my oldest daughter who has had to change schools twice now but we have managed to make the most of it and feel happy together wherever we go.
TFL: What’s the best part about being a father?
CB: I have always appreciated family and now I have a chance to have my own. Just being able to be there and give my kids a chance for the best life possible is a great thing for me. I grew up without a father so I want my kids to have two parents and know their Dad loves and cares about them too. Spending time with my kids is the best feeling in the world.
TFL: Do you have big plans for Father’s Day?
CB: Well, my wife usually comes up with something good and I will have to wait and see what it is this year. We will be together and I am sure my girls are helping their mother come up with a cool surprise. I told them as long as it includes watching Game 3 of the NBA Finals, then I am happy to participate.
TFL: What are your thoughts on the NBA finals? Any predictions?
CB: It is hard to say because the Thunder is such a strong, young team, I just think this is Lebron and D [Dwayne] Wade’s time. This is their year, especially when they get back home and play in Miami, they will be hard to beat.
TFL: Tell me a little bit about what you see in your future with the Clippers. Team goals and Personal goals
CB: It was great to be a part of Clipper Nation. It was exciting to be a part of this transition in Los Angeles. When you are playing with superstar caliber guys like Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, you know there is a bright future. I knew this was going to be a great opportunity for me to play at such a high level in such a big market. From top to bottom everyone did a great job. I think we are just going to continue to grow as a team and as a unit. Once we get to training camp this summer, we will just continue to grow. The ultimate goal is to get that championship and I think we have a good chance in winning it.