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Caron Butler announces retirement from NBA

John Altavilla, The Hartford Courant on

Published in Basketball

When it came to Jim Calhoun's attention that the Wahlberg brothers, the prominent Hollywood producers, were planning to make a movie about the life of Caron Butler, Calhoun immediately contacted his former player and submitted a formal request.

"I told Caron only one thing," Calhoun said. "I'm a 28-year member of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild), and there is only one person who can play Jim Calhoun. Unfortunately, it would take a little makeup, but the voice is still there."

In all his years as a Hall of Fame basketball coach, a span of time from 1972 to 2012, its unlikely there has been a player Calhoun adored any more than Butler, even though they spent only two years together at UConn.

And so it was with great interest and respect that Calhoun received the news Tuesday that Butler, 37, had announced his retirement from the NBA.

"He calls me up every Father's Day and says, 'Hello, Pop,' " Calhoun said. "That's pretty special to me. That's why some of us love coaching so much. You get to see kids' growth from boys to men. From Pat Riley, to everyone that's been associated with him, Caron is a special guy."

Butler, who overcame a problematic childhood to star at UConn and play for nine NBA teams from 2002-16, used The Players Tribune to make his announcement.

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"I hope that when you think of the name Caron Butler, you remember how much I loved and respected the game," Butler wrote. "I hope you have an image of a guy who gave it everything he had, physically and mentally. I know it's a cliche, but this really was more than a game for me -- it was what saved me from a very grim future."

Born in Racine, Wis., Butler survived a difficult childhood that led him to dealing drugs at 12. He had his first child when he was only 14.

"At age 16, I was incarcerated after police found drugs and a pistol in my locker at school," Butler wrote. "I almost lost everything on more than one occasion, and I lost a lot of people close to me at a very young age."

It was at a youth detention center, where reading bible verses began to change his life, that he began playing basketball, and after a brief high school career in Racine, he enrolled at Maine Central Institute, which is where Calhoun found him.

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