Ex-NBA player Rasual Butler, wife Leah LaBelle killed in Studio City crash

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Former NBA star Rasual Butler and his wife were killed Wednesday in a rollover crash in Studio City.

The solo vehicle crash was reported around 2:30 a.m. on Ventura Boulevard near Arch Drive, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.

Butler, 38, of Studio City died at the scene, said coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter.

The coroner's office withheld the name of the fatally injured woman, citing the need to notify her next-of-kin. But two of Butler's former teams issued condolence statements naming her as Butler's wife, singer Leah LaBelle, who appeared on the third season of ``American Idol' in 2004.

According to police, Butler lost control of his Range Rover, which struck a parking meter, slammed into a wall and rolled over. Police said the driver was likely speeding, judging by the debris at the crash site.

Ventura Boulevard, from Vineland to Tujunga avenues, was closed for several hours while an investigation was conducted.

Butler, who was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002, had a long NBA career, playing for several teams, including the Los Angeles Clippers. He retired in 2016.

The Clippers' statement said Butler ``will long be remembered not only for his accomplishments on the court, but for his vibrant personality, positive outlook and the compassion he had for everyone around him.''

The Heat statement said the team was `` deeply saddened by the passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of Rasual and Leah. They will be missed.''

A close-knit group of friends held arms and hands and cried around a makeshift memorial for Rasual Butler and Leah LaBelle. They sang her songs and his praises. Butler and LaBelle died today. The two were in their Land Rover traveling along Ventura Blvd in Studio City when the driver lost control and hit three parking meters smashing windows in the Marshalls store nearby.

The vehicle then hit a concrete K-rail and flipped twice into the parking lot of the shopping center that houses Marshalls. Police believe speeding was the problem. They believe the car was traveling two or three times the 30-mile-an-hour posted speed limit.

Rasual played for the LA Clippers, The Spurs, and was originally drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002. LaBelle was a singer who first launched into public light on American Idol in the early years and, more recently, was crafting her own singing career with music videos.

Actor Columbus Short was among the friends who showed up to pay respects and help make a memorial of flowers, candles, stuffed animals and even bowling pins. Short said Butler was an avid bowler and worked on his bowling game as much as his basketball one. He was among the last to see the couple. They played in their regular Tuesday night bowling league at PINZ. Short says he left around 10 pm and can't imagine what happened after that prior to the single-car wreck.

Meanwhile, tributes are pouring in including this from the LA Clippers saying,
"The L.A. Clippers are deeply saddened by the loss of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Rasual will long be remembered not only for his accomplishments on the court, but for his vibrant personality, positive outlook and the compassion he had for everyone around him."

The police investigation continues.

Portions of video used in this story are restricted to the Los Angeles area.

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