Sometimes we need to hit rock bottom to reach the top. Ask Caron Butler, the former NBA all-Star and NBA champion who managed to become a become a first-round NBA draft pick after a past a sa drug dealer in his hometown in Wisconsin.

Since his childhood, his role models were on the street “breaking the law”, as he used to say, and he was facing a troubled existence: growing up with a single mother, Butler became a coke dealer at 11, a father at 14 and arrested more than a dozen times by the age of 15.

But the thing happened when he was just 17. The police sergeant Rick Geller obtained a warrant to search the house he was living in. He found some crackthere and Butler, who already had a long criminal history, got arrested.

But when talking to Butler, Geller felt he’d just met a kid with the capacity to turn his life around despite a challenging environment. Geller decided not to charge Butler, sparing him a potential 10-year sentence.

After that moment of compassion, Butler decided to rededicate himself to basketball and left the streets behind for good.

After his release, only a police officer’s judgement call spared him a fate that would have derailed his basketball career forever. Suddenly, Butler saw the chance to change his life forever: while he got a job at a fast-food restaurant, he was joining a tournament made up of the country’s top-ranked high school basketball players and he managed to walk away with the MVP award.

“People told me I’d opened up a door: that I could get a free education and make a better life for my family,” he says during an interview.

Since that fateful day, things only got better for Butler. He quickly received a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut, where he averaged 18 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2 steals a game.

His skillset had impressed enough NBA scouts to be drafted  10th overall by the Miami Heat in the 2002 NBA Draft.

He was traded around, playing for the Lakers and the Wizards, where he played the best basketball of his career, being named a 2-time All-Star. In the 2010 NBA season, Caron was traded from Washington to Dallas, who were in need of a gritty supporting scorer, which is exactly what Butler provided.

Unfortunately for Caron however, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the 2010-2011 season, which put him on the shelf for the rest of the regular season.  However, Caron wouldn’t be hindered by this and rehabbed his injury quick enough to make it back on the roster for the Maverick’s playoff run that year and he reached with his team the massive upset that year, defeating the newly-formed Miami Heat in 6 games to win their first NBA title.

Butler was traded to the Clippers after that magical run, but received a standing ovation from Rick Carlisle, Mark Cuban and the Mavericks’ fans when he faced his former team, also receiving his championship ring in the process.

Since the injury, Butler has bounced around the league as a veteran to provide leadership off the bench for young NBA teams such as the Thunder, Pistons and recently the Kings: Butler’s dedication, experience, wisdom could be used as an example to their young stars.

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