Racine, Wisconsin provides relief from thirst. Caught between Chicago and Milwaukee, Racine provides plenty of fast food restaurants, gas stations, and yes, a cheese store.
An oasis off of I-94, Racine, Wisconsin offers charm and history that few take time to visit or experience.
NBA players during All-Star weekend had a hard time pin pointing the time and place that they fell in love with the game of basketball. Most of them insisted that it was there when they were born. Brandon Jennings, rookie from the Milwaukee Bucks, talked about the feeling he felt when he was a young kid when he stepped on the basketball court.
Racine, Wisconsin is where Caron Butler solved the riddle to his questionable upbringing. Arrested over 15 times before he was 15 years old, Butler was in a detention center in Wisconsin when he told himself enough is enough.
“I wrote my mom letter after letter while I was in prison promising to change my life, and that she deserved a better son. I used basketball to achieve my promise to her.”
In solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons Caron saw his future written all over the walls of his cell. “They were blank. I didn’t see anything but a life staring at a blank wall in solitary confinement.”
Caron Butler has traveled the nation. Stops in Connecticut, Miami, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and now Dallas.
“Those easily could have been prison stays.”
Released from jail Butler’s focus turned to basketball. Catching the attention of Jim Calhoun, Butler played two seasons for Calhoun at the University of Connecticut. “I wanted to stay, I honestly did, but I saw a chance to provide for mom.”
Eight years after being released from prison, Butler was drafted 10th by the Miami Heat in the 2002 NBA Draft. “It was an amazing feeling being drafted. I have never forgotten that feeling I had while being locked up.”
Caron Butler was traded from the Heat to the Lakers, from the Lakers to the Wizards, and most recently from the Wizards to the Dallas Mavericks.
Dallas gets a player that plays with a chip on his shoulder. There isn’t anything on the court that seems too tough for Butler to overcome. A hard-nosed defender, Butler creates havoc for teams due to his ability to play shooting guard or small forward. A tenacious rebounder, Butler gives the Mavericks another scoring option they so desperately craved.
Butler’s tough, tattooed exterior can’t cover up his big heart. The Dallas community gets a player dedicated to giving back, and provides a role model for kids with troubled pasts. “I simply offer my support and experience. You cannot force anyone to do something they don’t want to do.”
His off court awards and projects are far too many to list. He has traveled to South Africa on behalf of the NBA. He has hosted charity basketball games, sponsored high school tournaments, hosted back-to-school drives for less fortunate kids, and held free basketball clinics.
He has been given awards on the local and national level.
He started “Caron’s Coats for Kids” program which hands out coats, hats, and gloves to kids in Racine and Washington D.C. “Caron’s Bike Brigade” has partnered with Wal-Mart and The Salvation Army to give out over 2,500 bikes and helmets. He sponsors “Cops n Kids Legacy Program” in Racine for the betterment of the Racine community.
June 8, 2007 and July 20, 2009 were proclaimed “Caron Butler Day” in Racine and Connecticut respectively.
A true “momma’s boy” Butler never loses focus on and off the court. He still lists his mother, Mattie Paden, as the person he admires most.
After his playing days are over Caron says he would love to open and run a group home.
His future is far from blank.