The Milwaukee Bucks held a Thursday afternoon press conference to officially introduce small forward Caron Butler, whom the team acquired last week in a trade that shipped out reserves Viacheslav Kravtsov and Ish Smith. The team held the presser at Racine Park High School, where Butler, who was born and raised in Racine, played high school ball before transferring to a prep school in Maine and charting a course to the University of Connecticut, the NBA draft lottery, two All-Star appearances and an NBA championship.
The homecoming celebration was a huge deal for Butler and his family. As Bob Wolfley of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote, the 33-year-old veteran swingman "warned those [in attendance] that there might be some water works to go with his words," and as you can see in the video clip below, Butler "made good on his prediction."
You know, being moved around a couple of times in this offseason has been hard on the family, but just to be back home, that's extremely important, so I'm extremely happy about this whole process. [...]
I'm a little emotional, definitely. I always am. Y'all see me crying at press conferences and all them things all the time, draft night and so on. But it's a different emotion now, because this is a dream come true. This is something that I always dreamed about and thought about ... and I never thought it would happen. So it's special. Thank you.
It's true that Butler's shown a propensity for letting 'em flow in the past — when he announced he'd be leaving UConn, when he was drafted by the Miami Heat, when he sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss his rough upbringing and when he signed a five-year, $50 million contract extension with the Washington Wizards, for example — but the momentary quake and quiver felt especially appropriate in the context of his return to Racine.
Yes, it's home and it's where his basketball life got its proper start, but it's also where he came up hard, where he dealt drugs at age 11, where he and his friends fought and did damage that landed him in juvenile court an estimated 15 times before he turned 15. Butler's connection to his city is complicated and fraught with emotion, as we learned in Michael Lee's excellent 2008 Washington Post feature on Butler's "great escape" from Racine:
"I was [doing] some wild stuff out here," Butler said, pausing on the corner of 18th and Howe. "I walk this corner so proudly because I came from this block. I skipped school to be out here. My history is right here. Some things have changed [for me] from a growth standpoint and a money standpoint, but I'm still humble.
"I'm going to do whatever I can in my ability to not mess this up. ... You try your best to do positives, do the right thing, influence kids not to go down the path you went down. When are people going to learn? You don't always have to be the same as you once was. That's why they call it mature. People change. People grow up."
And sometimes, people come home ... and when they do, there might be some waterworks. (Even if they're called "Tuff Juice.")
- Caron Butler
- Racine Park High School
- Milwaukee Bucks