Former NBA player Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle, were killed in a single-car crash in the early hours of Wednesday morning in Studio City, California. The deaths were first reported by TMZ.
At around 2 a.m., Butler reportedly lost control of his Range Rover, struck a parking meter, and flipped before slamming into a wall. According to TMZ, police officers believe that Butler’s car was speeding before it lost control. NBC Los Angeles reported that police said the vehicle was traveling at speeds two to three times higher than the limit.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s department confirmed Butler’s identity to PEOPLE.
Butler, 38, was drafted out of La Salle by the Miami Heat in the second round of the 2002 NBA draft. He went on to play for the Heat, Hornets, Clippers, Bulls, Raptors, Pacers, Wizards, and Spurs from 2002 to 2016. Most recently, Butler was expected to play a second season in the BIG3 League.
“The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle,” the league said in a statement. “A pro’s pro, Rasual enjoyed a long, successful career and was widely respected by his peers and coaches. We grieve with their loved ones during this difficult time.”
Two of Butler’s former teams, the Miami Heat and the Indiana Pacers, issued the following statements:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle,” the Heat wrote on Twitter. “Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of Rasual and Leah. They will be missed.”
“Our entire organization is deeply saddened after learning of the death of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. In his one season with us, Rasual was the consummate team player and a great role model for our younger players on how a professional should prepare and act, while being a positive influence on everyone who associated with him. We offer our sincerest condolences to he and his wife’s family.”
LaBelle, 32, was a contestant on the third season of American Idol, where she came in 12th in 2004.
The season’s winner, Fantasia Barrino, paid her respects on Instagram, writing, “This just doesn’t seem right even saying right now but Rest In Peace Baby Girl 😢💔 @leahlabelle I will never forget you. Idol Family Forever. RIP Angel 😇 I’m sitting here STUCK LIKE NOOOOOOO WAYYYYYYY!!!” George Huff, who placed fifth, wrote, “My heart is broken! 💔 R.I.P. 👼🏽👼🏽 #angels”