I first heard the news from my cousin.
He texted me to let me know.
He was like, “Yeah, your dad passed away.
” I went to Coach Barnett, he just held me in hishand, held me in his arms.
That’s when all like the rest of, rest of the word got outand my teammates just pretty much just all surrounded me.
– We all immediately went to him.
He was struggling, asked him if he, what he wanted to do.
He was scheduled to start that day.
He wanted, really, to be around his team, that was his family.
– I said yeah.
I know he would wannawatch the game anyway.
I told him I was gonna beable to start that game.
And so, we walk.
And we’re going downlike our Spartan walk, our normal Spartan walk that we do.
And I’m surrounded byChris Frey and Mufi Hunt, and they’re just holding me.
When we get to the field, we all traditionallylock arms and walk on.
But me and Coach D stayed behind.
And he just, he just wanted me to know that like.
my brothers, they’re here for me.
And they were there for me, you know.
(melancholic music) (quivering exhale) (somber music) My parents were divorced, but my dad, he was always around.
We grew up with him, he raised us, he did everything he can.
And that means a lot, especially, like the environment we’re in, like most people don’t have a dad.
Most people don’t getto grow up with having a father in their life.
You know, he was a big part of my life, he was the main reason why I love school somuch and stuff like that.
And my mom, she’s a very, very, very strong woman.
I grew up in Dallas, Texas.
The street was 1310Hendricks in Dallas, Texas.
We had a nice little viewof the city where I grew up.
Pretty much ourneighborhood was all close, everybody knew everybody on every block.
And so we all just kinda bonded from then and everybody was, went tothe same elementary school, same middle school, same high school.
But it was definitelytough where we came from.
We was always moving around, bouncing around, house to house.
It was a lot of negativity, basically.
And so, it’s just whatit was, violence, drugs.
– The focus level for him to avoid the temptations of partying and doing various things was elite and with the temptations, right, that exist for mostteenagers, but specifically teenagers from the foe block where them guys are fromout there in Mesquite.
It’s rare to have seenkids that have gone through the adversity that he had gone through – Sports was the main thingto keep us distracted, that and school.
I was the (laughs) out of all my brothers I say I was the one who’swas main focus was school.
Soon as I get fromschool, go straight home.
Do my homework and I’d befree for the rest of the day and just hanged out with my friends.
And me and my friends we just, well all we did was moresports stuff anyway, so.
Just kept doing that repetitively, and not knowing like, it wasgonna keep me out of trouble just doing it ’cause I feltlike doing it and felt like it was fun for me.
(upbeat music) – Wasn’t the biggest kid, he wasn’t necessarily the fastest kid, but he was a kid that worked the hardest.
It’s kinda one of thosethings where you know, you started out as afreshman, a sophomore, he might not even have the best, best player on the team at the time.
As he kinda grew up tobeing a junior, he kinda, you know really worked his wayinto being a starter for us.
And then you know, of courseas a senior he came in and all that hard work paid off.
You get him out on the field, he was the fastest kid on the field.
Everybody sometimes felt like they were running in slow motion.
– Josh Butler was a ball playing guy and when the lights came on, he was a good practice player, he was good Monday through Thursday.
But on Friday, Man he turnt up andbecame a whole ‘nother guy and made just a bunch of plays for us.
Was just and encouragementto his teammates.
You know, he got other guysaround him to play better.
– [Josh Butler] Coach Ward, he really helped my game go up another level.
And that’s when like thecrowds became bigger, you know, a lot of the peoplestarted noticing who I was.
(contemplative music) – All the kids wouldjust flock to my house.
They didn’t have anywhere togo, that’s where they stayed.
When they didn’t wanna gohome, that’s where they stayed.
I just got used to coming in the house and just stepping over.
He would come and say, “Can I come?” Or you know, “Can I stay the night?” Or whatever the case might been.
But it was times when youjust knew, you just knew.
You know when they were all at the house or he was sitting at thehouse, you just didn’t, you knew it was something, that this is where he needed to be.
– It was kind of an all hands on deck.
It wasn’t even a plannedthing, it wasn’t something that all the adults sat down and said “Hey you do this, I do this, you do this.
” It’s just, people kindastepped in you know, and you know, his friends’moms helped out a lot.
Josh would get to school extremely early.
School started I think 8:45 and he would be in the coach’s office 7:15, 7:20, just watching film.
You know because, that’s what he did.
He’d get there early because he had to.
And he’d just sit there and watch film.
You kinda just understood, that’s his character, he’s just going to handleit and move forward and do what he can do andcontrol what he can control.
(melancholic music) – Man those guys thatwere, that grew up together on the foe, like they used to call it, were close knit guys away from the field.
Their parents raised ’em all together and I think that that communitythat kinda adopted the, you know, the villagementality in terms of when you see my kid outtaline get ’em corrected, and when I see your kid outta line I’ll get ’em corrected.
– It takes a community, cause I would hope that if if it was my personalkids that somebody would reach out and do the same thing.
It’s just what it is, and they all just stayclose to one another, take care of one another.
– Spending more time withthem, more than anything was a blessing, you know.
They became a huge impact on my life.
It was like a lot ofrough stuff happening, and I just needed somewhere to stay.
And they took me in with open arms.
That right there you know, I could’ve been homeless, I could’ve, anything could’ve happened.
(bus engine rumbling) (soft music) – The Greyhound bus ridetook 49 straight hours.
It was an experience, I’ll tell you that.
Like, I stopped in a bunch of places.
It’s something thatwouldn’t stop me, you know.
It was the most affordable thing that I could, you know, handle, or that we could like come up with.
– I was told, “Wanna go visit Tennessee.
” Okay then you gon’ come on back.
Then I remember my kid’s dad getting a phone call.
He’s like, “Did you know “they putting Josh on thebus to go to Michigan?” I said, “No Josh can’t get on no bus “to go to Michigan State, what’s wrong with y’all, “who bought that ticket?” He said, “Well I bought it.
” I said.
“Why would y’all send thatbaby all the way to Mi– “what is he gon’ do oncehe get off the bus?” – I recall conversations withJosh with him saying like, man, I kinda want, I wannaget out of Texas, like, I wanna experience something else.
His demeanor, his work ethic, his character and mentality.
I had no doubt that he would make it wherever he decided to go.
– That’s the kind of kid he is.
If it’s there and it’slaid out for him, a plan, and he buys into, he’ll goto any distance to do it.
I don’t think there is an extreme for him.
(crowd roaring) – [Sports Announcer]Walsing takes the snap! And trouble in the back field.
And drilled and dropped back at the 16.
Spartans all over ’em.
Josh Butler from the corner.
(redemptive music) – Nobody else really is like, persuading me to go to a certain school.
They made me make my own decisions, which I’ve been doingmy whole life anyway.
I just didn’t let nobodyknow until, you know like close to the end, I was like, yeah I was gonna go to Michigan State anyway.
(laughs) Whether you like it or not, whether it’s super faraway from Texas or not, you know I can fly back.
For one, I wanted to get out of Texas, you know, just to experience life more, you know, get to know places.
And I’m glad I came toMichigan State anyway, because I’ve been through a lot, I’ve been through a lot.
Everybody who actually sayslike, it’s a family here, they’re for real, it’sreally a family here.
And they take care of you.
No matter what you going through you could always havesomebody to talk to at least.
I had them to help me out through pretty much anything, you know.
Especially dealing withthe deaths of my family, and my family, you know.
It was a great decisionthat I made, you know.
(emotional laugh) Probably one of the bestdecisions of my life.
(dogs barking) (birds chirping) My mom first told me she had stage 4 cancerfor the second time.
When that happened, you know, I was able to actually finish, finish classes and stuff early.
And I packed up all my stuff, and they told me it was apossibility of it being terminal.
You know, it was toughto like, just see it.
You know, ’cause nobody wantsto see your mom struggling and stuff like that.
When she passed, we was able to give hera nice funeral service.
Everybody wore pink andwhite for breast cancer.
We was able to get a properburial and stuff for her, which was great.
Also with my time down there, it was a lot of businessI had to take care of.
Actually my dad’s ashes, I took that and I drove two hours to his mom’s grave ’cause he never got the chance to actually visit his mom when he lost his mom.
He just pretty much wentto, into depression.
Knowing that now and knowing like what your parents was going through and stuff like and understanding it.
I got a better understanding of life and what really goes on in life and it shows who is there foryou, and stuff like that.
But I drove down two hoursto my grandma’s grave and I buried the urnthere with my grandma.
And this, like I said, this is what I got from it.
And like I said, I keepit with me at all times.
– Sometimes you just need to be there and wrap your arms around him and just hold him ’causethat’s what he needs.
You know, I think growingup there’s probably a lot that he missed out on.
It’s been hard for him.
It’s been hard to just sit here and watch him come and go.
You know that it’s on his mind, and no matter how much youhug him, until it passes, until it gets a little older, it’s gon’ be there.
We sat here and he balledand I balled with him.
But, it’s gon’ be okay.
– For him to continue to do things the way he’s doing ’em andrepresent Michigan State and represent his last name and his community wherehe went to high school.
There’s something great at the end of this journey for Josh Butler.
You can just feel it.
– There’s not a day that don’t go past where I don’t think about my mom or think about my dad.
I know they’ll be proud of me, regardless.
I just know that my parentsare looking down from up above and just smiling.
(mourning music) – Sit, sit.
– Josh is a winner, andhe’s always been a winner.
And he’s continuing to win right now.
What he did, not only will it inspire a generation of youngfolks that look up to him like his little brothers, kids growing up over there in the West Mesquite attendance zone that know Josh Butler, he’ll inspire those folks to go out and be different and pursue college.
And then for his own family, he just rewrote the whole story, this point forward on the Butler boys.
– Josh is just another example of when you make a decision, no matter your circumstance, anything that you’re willing to fully put everything you haveinto is achievable.
Like they say, he got it out the mud.
I mean, through and through.
I know that’s a popularthing for people to say, Josh Butler is a perfect example of a kid that made a decision and no matter the circumstance, he got to where he wanted to be.
You know, and I don’t thinkthat journey’s over for him.
Keep being Josh Butler, be you.
And I think that’s somethingthat he’s embraced.
You know, I think that’s where the Josh Butler TV thing comes from.
– [Josh] Academic excellence, academic excellence, Roxy! That’s what we did, that’s what we did! – I really believe thatbecause of everything that he’s been through, he sees his self, being in that role modelto help the next person.
And that’s where I seehim at the at the most.
Whether it is doing oneof his crazy videos, you could be having a bad day, and because he done cameand did something crazy you just be laughing all over the place.
And I think he brings thatout of the next person.
– I actually got a hiton a running back today.
– From the day I stepped on campus, to going through adversity.
Being able to liveprosperous and thank God for being able to at least graduate or to get two degrees at that.
I’m glad that I’ve went through everything that I went through.
And I’m glad that I did it here.