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Caron Butler visits with PCC students

21 September 2016

NBA player Caron Butler visited Pratt Community College to speak to students where he gave an inspirational testimony about his life, hard times and overcoming obstacles. Butler spoke directly to PCC students, athletes and staff about his rough upbringing and troubled adolescence to rising to where he is now as an NBA player, a successful entrepreneur and businessman as well as a loving husband and father.

Butler grew up in Racine, WI. He was drawn to life on the street and exposed to a lot of criminal activity at an early age. He had several run-ins with the law by the age of 14. His wake up call came around that age when he was caught in school by the ATF with drugs and a gun on him. This incident cost him a year of his life as he went to prison. Through reflection, he started to take the advice of the people in his life that wanted the best for him. For the first time in his life he wanted better.

After getting out of jail, Caron tried to turn his life around. His mother had moved to a better part of Racine while Caron was locked up. With the new move Caron gravitated towards the game of basketball. He picked up his first job. He faced the temptation of his former lifestyle when his former acquaintances would see him working his job and make fun of him for not making easy money through criminal activity. The hardest thing to turning his life around was that he had to unlearn everything he had been taught during his criminal life in the streets. He had to learn to trust people.

"Trusting people is how you get killed in the streets," Butler said. "You have to learn that not all people out there are trying to hurt you. You have to allow yourself to trust people and become vulnerable."

Butler was still haunted by his former life still haunted and plagued. One night ATF came and searched his mother's home and found cocaine and a gun in his room. They had all the evidence they needed to put Butler away for a long time yet something was different this night. Detective Rick Geller took a chance on Butler and let him go.

"There are consequences for everything you do," Butler said. "That man changed my life that night with what he did for me."

Butler took the opportunity given to him by Detective Geller and went to prep school at Maine Central Institute where he met another influential man in his life, Coach Max Good. Under the guidance of Coach Good, Caron learned to be determined and disciplined in what he did in life. Coach Good became the father figure in Butler's life through the game of basketball.

After telling his story, Butler opened up to questions from PCC students and athletes. When asked what his greatest accomplishment was he replied that his greatest accomplishment was being a great father. His keys to success are that you have to find your niche in life. He told students to have other things in your life that you enjoy doing and to be realistic in your ability and model what you do after people with similar skill set and use your niche to stand out. Butler's other advice on staying successful after you "make it" is to give back, invest in things that you enjoy and do what you can to leave a legacy.

Students took to social media after the event and said that Butler was an inspiration and a great speaker. Butler spent time after his speech answering individual questions and taking photos.

"He has a very inspirational story. Walking proof that everyone can make it," said PCC student and basketball player, James Brooks on twitter.

When asked how he became successful after all that he had faced he said that he has a natural tendency to be encouraged to prove his doubters wrong.

"Stay with it," Butler said. "Doors will open. People will help you when they see how bad you work for it. How bad you want it. No matter what life throws at you, get back up."