This month, in collaboration with young adult author Justin A. Reynolds, Butler released “Shot Clock,” the first book in a fictional series about an AAU basketball team. Some of the characters and storylines are loosely based on Butler’s own upbringing, and others are derived from the lives of the kids he met and mentored through the Butler Elite travel basketball program he created in Racine.
From 2015: Caron Butler takes readers on a life of guns, guts and courage
“As adults, we learn to deal with trauma, and it becomes very, very normal,” said Butler, who played five seasons with the Washington Wizards and won an NBA championship with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 in the part of his 14 years NBA. career. “But what happens with this trauma in children? I wanted to shed some light on this.
Butler also wanted to tell an authentic story that would appeal to children. He said teachers thought he had a learning disability, when the truth was the curriculum consisted of books he was not interested in reading.
In “Shot Clock”, the main protagonist tries out for the AAU team shortly after his best friend is shot by a police officer. He is not selected, but the coach offers him a position as the team’s statistician because he is good with numbers. The book is a story of hope and possibility, revealing the power of community and the many ways children can find purpose and meaning in their lives. The Coach character is largely based on Butler, who is entering his third season as an assistant with the Miami Heat.
Kobe Bryant, a teammate of Butler’s with the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2004-05 season, wrote the foreword to Butler’s biography, “Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA”. Bryant also co-wrote a posthumous basketball-themed young adult series. Butler said one of his last conversations with Bryant before the five-time NBA champion died in a helicopter crash in 2020 continued to inspire him.
“He made me promise that my second act would be way bigger than my first act, and that’s something I don’t take lightly,” Butler said. “My first act, I feel like a hell of a basketball player, I’ve done amazing things and made millions of dollars doing them, but my second act is trying different things and to find different ways to influence and have an impact and leave a legacy that I will be extremely proud of and that my children can inherit, love and enjoy.
Since retiring as a player in 2018, Butler has advocated against mass incarceration with the Vera Institute of Justice and served on the board of the NBA’s Retired Players Association. His television work with TNT and as a Wizards analyst for NBC Sports Washington convinced him to give coaching a shot.
“I would say, ‘Damn, why did that coach do that? ‘” Butler said. “And then I break it down and I’m just like, ‘I could see myself on the sidelines. … I enjoy every moment.
Butler has been writing “Shot Clock” with Reynolds for the past two years, sometimes working late into the night after Heat games. When it came time to plan the tour to promote the book, there was no doubt Butler would make a stop in DC, where he spent more years with the Wizards than any other team. Butler, who completed the second book in the series two weeks ago, spoke to students at Takoma Park Middle School last Friday.
“It’s my second home,” he says.