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South Philly basketball standout Rasual Butler has passed away

Rasual Butler, a former South Philly Review Male Athlete of the Year, passed away early Wednesday morning in California. He was 38.

The tragic news hit home at La Salle University, where Butler ranks fourth all-time in scoring.

“This is a real tragedy to the La Salle community and to all who knew Rasual,” Director of Athletics Bill Bradshaw said in a release. “He was a terrific basketball player, a great teammate and a wonderful person. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and families of Rasual and his wife, Leah.”

According to published reports, Butler, a native of 20th and Manton streets, was killed in a single-car crash in Carson City, Calif., early Wednesday morning. His Range Rover struck a parking meter and a wall. He was pronounced dead at 2:35 a.m.

A member of the La Salle Explorers from 1998–2002, Butler finished his collegiate career with a remarkable 2,125 points to rank fourth in school history behind former National Players of the Year Lionel Simmons, Tom Gola and Michael Brooks. A two-time First Team All-Atlantic 10 selection, Butler averaged 22.1 points per game as a junior to tie for the league lead in scoring.

As a senior, the 6–7 forward averaged 20.9 points and 9.0 rebounds and was named to the A-10’s All-Tournament Team after helping La Salle to a win over top-seeded Temple in the quarterfinals. He was inducted into the La Salle Hall of Athletes in ’08.

The Roman Catholic High School product was drafted in the second round of the ’02 NBA Draft by the Miami Heat. He went on to a lengthy 14-year career that included stints with eight different teams. Butler played in 809 games during his professional career, averaging 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per contest.

The Miami Heat sent out a Tweet in response to the news.

“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.”

LaBelle was a former “American Idol” contestant.

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