Ex-NBA Player, American Idol Contestant Die in Car Crash

Rasual Butler, wife Leah LaBelle Vladowski were driving early Wednesday in Los Angeles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 31, 2018 7:19 PM CST
Updated Feb 1, 2018 12:33 AM CST
Ex-NBA Player, American Idol Contestant Die in Car Crash
In this 2017 file photo, former NBA basketball player Rasual Butler and his wife Leah LaBelle Vladowski arrive at the NBA Awards at Basketball City at Pier 36 in New York.   (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

Former NBA forward Rasual Butler and his wife were killed in a single-vehicle rollover crash in Los Angeles early Wednesday, the AP reports. The Range Rover crashed around 2:30am in the Studio City area and left a swath of damage along a major thoroughfare. Los Angeles police said in a statement that Butler was speeding before his vehicle jumped a curb, hit three parking meters and a concrete wall, and then flipped over twice. The vehicle came to rest inside a shopping mall parking lot. Butler, 38, and Leah LaBelle Vladowski, 31, were pronounced dead at the scene, said Ed Winter, assistant chief investigator with the Los Angeles County coroner's office. Autopsies were pending.

Butler was drafted in 2002 by the Miami Heat out of LaSalle University in his hometown of Philadelphia. He played for eight NBA teams during his 13-year career, including the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls, and San Antonio Spurs. He had career averages of 7.5 points and 2.4 rebounds. Butler's death sent shockwaves through the NBA. "Rasual was one of the greatest people we have ever had play for us; a great player, teammate and better person," Miami Heat President Pat Riley said. Butler last signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves in late 2016 and was waived that October. Vladowski earned a measure of celebrity as an R&B singer. She placed 12th in the third season of American Idol in 2004.

(Read more car crash stories.)

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