Last Sunday, Caron Butler gave an interview to NPR's Michel Martin on All Things Considered before the release of his book, Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA. If you didn't have a chance to listen to it live last Sunday, an embed to interview is below. Go ahead and give it a listen:
In the interview, there was no mention of the 2009 GunGate incident between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton. However, this quote from Butler's book (via Dan Steinberg of The Washington Post) helps set the stage as to why he played mediator when Crittenton pointed a gun at Arenas:
I didn’t panic because I’d been through far worse, heard gunshots more times than I could count, and seen it all before. This would have been just another day on the south side.
I talked calmly to Javaris, reminding him that his entire career, not to mention, perhaps, his life, would be over if he flicked that trigger finger.
When he was a child, Butler became a drug dealer before he was a teenager and once served an 18-month sentence as a 15 and 16-year-old. While at a juvenile facility, he got into a fight and had to spend 15 days solitary confinement which Butler considered a turning point in his life.
Not long after his release, Butler got a job and was turning his life around. He mentioned in the interview that one day he was sick and the police were at his house. They found cocaine in the house -- enough to put him in jail for 10-15 years -- but one police officer, Sgt. Geller ultimately released him.
Fortunately, Butler did not fit the description of the person who was allegedly selling drugs from Butler's house, though he could have easily been charged. To this day, Butler and Sgt. Geller remain friends. And it's safe to say that that moment helped pave the way for Butler to have a successful basketball career at UConn and the NBA.
Going back to that gun incident in 2009 and the events that led up to it, I now have a deeper appreciation for Butler's maturity as a leader of the team. Being in that situation, Butler had the empathy of being in dangerous situations because he was once a young man headed down the wrong path. That said, he turned his life around for the better.
Those words Butler said to Crittenton that fateful day could have prevented things from being even worse. Thanks for being the man and leader that you are Caron Butler.