New Sacramento Kings forward Caron Butler has gone through a lot in his life. Before he entered the NBA he had already been in a gang and was a drug dealer in Wisconsin, a life that resulted him spending time behind bars as a teenager. His road to the NBA is detailed in a new book set to be released next week (Oct. 7) titled Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA.
Butler enters this season with the Kings as an outside shooter, positive locker room presence and admitted Mountain Dew addict. The 13-year NBA veteran took a few minutes to speak to Sactown Royalty about the book and the NBA during Monday's media day.
Tell us a little about your book.
It's a combination of a lot of things, talking about my personal life, friends and people who helped shape me and mold me to who I am today. Talk a lot about the people who I lost in my life on this journey to the streets, incarceration and stuff like that. It talks about a lot of things and then it has an unbelievable ending that just talks about all the adversity that you go through and coming up out of all that.
What motivated you to tell your story?
I've been sitting on the material since like 2007/2008. Been working for some time and just thought why not now? Why not talk about it? I'm comfortable with talking about it now, I wasn't comfortable talking about it then and opening up. But I decided to talk about it and open up and people have been receiving it extremely well.
I'm sure kids look up to you. Is it something you wanted to do to motivate kids in their lives?
In the summer, throughout my life, before I was getting press coverage or anything, all I ever did was stuff in communities ... people said, ‘you should talk about this stuff, tell your story more and the influence that you have it would inspire a lot of people. It doesn't even have to be basketball or anything like that just different walks of life it will inspire people to do good.' And I was like, ‘you know what, I'm comfortable with doing that now.' I finally got comfortable with talking about it, reflecting on my past situations and I'm OK where I'm at.
Obviously, you get into your NBA career in the book. What are some stories in there that folks haven't heard before?
The journey with Dallas and the things I learned in the process. My relationship with Kobe [Bryant] ... he was willing to do the forward on the book for me and I was just extremely grateful and blessed that he was able to do that and he was willing to do that. And just situations - when the trade happened, how I felt, how my emotions were at the time. I talk about a lot of basketball, but it was more personal, it wasn't a basketball book, it was more of a personal book about people that are from grassroots that go through adversity. It's situations where every time you jump off the porch your surroundings, people dying, drug sells, correctional facilities, single-parent household; those are the things that inspired me to write the book because you see so much of that going on right now and don't think you can't make it out of those circumstances because I did and you can do it too and this is what I had to go through. People feel like NBA players just have it like this all the time, they're tall as hell, they jump, they run, they're quick, they get selected out of a selection pool of whatever athletes and they just play. Everybody has a story ... and I felt like mine was unique and unique enough to tell it and hopefully everybody receives it.
Switching gears a little, how was the trip to Israel with Omri Casspi and DeMarcus Cousins?
It was nice, when I signed on with the Kings we flew out to Las Vegas to do the Summer League thing and to do dinner with all the guys. Omri said, ‘Hey, if you're not doing anything in ten days from now you can come to Israel with us.' I asked my wife. My wife usually doesn't like flying anywhere and I told her about the trip and she was like ‘of course I'll go.' I took my 11-year-old with us as well and it was just an unbelievable team camaraderie trip. It was an opportunity for us to kick back and enjoy each other away from the game of basketball, work out, we did work out a few times over there, but just to support a teammate and it built that brotherhood that you want to build going into the season.
How is your relationship with DeMarcus? All the pressure is on him on this team.
I don't think there's no pressure, I just think you've got to play the game of basketball, have fun and just enjoy each other and things will be fine.
You have been around the league for a while so you have met a lot of the players. I'm going to run down a list and you give me an answer.
Who is the funniest guy you have played basketball with?
I think Blake [Griffin] is extremely funny. Blake's got an unbelievable personality, he's really a funny guy.
Biggest trash talker?
KG [Kevin Garnett] talks the most of anybody ... he's always talking to himself or to others.
Toughest defender you have gone up against.
I think LeBron [James] always has his moments because he's so fast and explosive. I think Kawhi Leonard is definitely up there. He's got good hands, good feet to match those hands and he's got a really good basketball IQ.
The guy who gave you the best advice.
D-Wade [Dwyane Wade] or Kobe [Bryant], guys that just want to be honest. Some people because of the stage of their life, or where they're at or what they've been through, they don't give you the criticism that you probably deserve or need to hear. But those guys are always guys that are just real and honest.
Who has the best shot celebration?
LeBron is up there. When he pushed the buildings down and stepped over something, I don't know what he did, but that was a hell of a celebration, more like a football celebration.
You have your own celebration on the three, right?
Yeah, we do the phone call.
Who are you calling?
Long distance ... Kevin [Durant] had me do it. Once I did it, he said ‘keep doing it.'