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OKC Thunder: Caron Butler's remarkable story will now include an OKC chapter

Butler has come a long way since serving prison time as a teenager for dealing drugs. That’s one of the reasons the Thunder signed him — because of Butler’s resiliency and determination to reshape his life
by Darnell Mayberry Published: March 3, 2014

The first question posed to Caron Butler by the media Monday afternoon was a softball.

How are you?”

But when the newest member of the Oklahoma City Thunder parted his lips to answer, he offered a peek into his personal story.

“I’m blessed,” Butler said.

Butler knows he might not have been here, playing on his seventh team in 12 NBA seasons. He knows his life could have gone down a much rockier road and panned out drastically differently.

A drug dealer by the tender age of 11, Butler was arrested 15 times before turning 15. He sold crack cocaine on the streets of his hometown, Racine, Wis., and was sentenced to 18 months in prison as a teen for a drug and weapons conviction.

It’s all a part of a well-documented checkered past that Butler has never shied away from.

“Being incarcerated at a young age, being locked up for more than a year and getting out and going through all that adversity,” Butler said, “I think it shaped me into the man I am today.”

Butler’s story is one of rehabilitation and redemption. He transformed himself from a crack-selling teenager into a two-time All-Star and NBA champion.

His ability to overcome obstacles dating back to his rough and rugged childhood is a primary reason the Thunder jumped at the chance to add him to its roster soon after he agreed to part ways with Milwaukee last Thursday.

“The thing that we really like about him is he’s resilient,” said Thunder general manager Sam Presti. “He’s a grinder and he’s tough-minded and he’s a guy that’s got great bounce-back. Those are things that we value.”

Butler has told his story many times. The nuts and bolts are perhaps best captured in an 8-minute, 51- second Internet video released last month by Fox Sports Live. It’s entitled “The Caron Butler Story.”

In the documentary-style video, Butler takes you on a ride through the streets of his childhood neighborhood. Hamilton Park was the notorious epicenter of drug and gang-related activity. There, he sold drugs, witnessed drive-by shootings and lost more than a few friends to murders.

Back then, Butler was a paper boy. He received his newspapers at 3:30 in the morning and distributed them around the neighborhood. When he was finished, he headed to the park to serve different customers.

He called himself a lost kid. But fast money prevented him from picturing anything beyond the street life.

By his freshman year at Racine Case High School, Butler was heavy into the drug game. One day, police found drugs and an unloaded .32-caliber pistol in his locker. The police walked into a classroom and arrested Butler, who also was carrying $1,200 in cash but said the drugs were not his. Butler refused to say who they belonged to and took the charge.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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