Caron Discusses His Trip to South Africa
Not really funny.
Caron Butler's offseason has included trips to Mexico, Jamaica and the Bahamas. He appeared in a high-end men's clothing catalog, walked down the runway at a fashion show and traveled to Southern California, where he taped a promotional spot for his new sneaker. Today, though, he told me that his recent trip to South Africa with the NBA's Basketball Without Borders program was "top of the list" from this offseason.
"It really was life changing," said Butler, who returned from the five-day trip to Johannesburg last week. "Sometimes we talk about some of the things we're going through, and it really just puts things in perspective when you go out there."
Butler, who had never been to Africa, invited his 19-year old brother Melvin along on the trip. The centerpiece of the visit was a basketball camp for talented teenagers, but the NBA contingent, which also included Wizards Vice President of Player Personnel Milt Newton, also made some non-basketball trips. They visited Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum, stopped in at a lion park--"they said everything was at your own risk, so I kind of stayed back," Butler said--and traveled to Kliptown, a poor area in Soweto.
"They didn't even have water, no pipelines anything like that," Butler said of the Kliptown visit. "Seeing how they was living over there, and they were still happy and humble and grateful for every opportunity they was given....I did not know it was gonna be like that. That was just surprising."
Butler said he wants to mimic some of the charitable efforts other NBA players have launched in South Africa, and has already discussed his trip with teammates Etan Thomas, Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson and Antawn Jamison since his return.
"They said they'd be willing to do something major over there, a donation from us, just to say, 'We feel you and we're with you' " he said. "Within a year get we're definitely going to get something done out there."
In other news from Butler's offseason:
* He said he's been wearing suits from high-end California clothier élevée for years, including at his wedding, and that company officials had been asking him to model for years. "I had a little free time and my wife told me to do something a little different," Butler said, leading to his catalog shoot for the company this summer. He's already sent the resulting catalog to family members, and said he was satisfied with the results.
"I mean, the ladies say I look nice," he said.
* He also walked the runway in a fashion show at the Kennedy Center, which featured mega-celebrities like Jay-Z and John Legend, and that he wasn't intimidated by the runway.
"I just watched the person ahead of me man," he said, "it was simple."
* He filmed his first commercial for his new 3D Blue Chip Nike shoe, playing basketball with Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudamire at Venice Beach.
* And he went to last Sunday's Redskins game and plans to go to this Sunday's meeting with the Arizona Cardinals. Unlike much of the D.C. area, Butler is feeling unbridled optimism.
"As far as the Super Bowl and all that, I'm not no expert, but I know they're going to have a good record, I know they're going to have a winning record," he said. "With the addition of Jason Taylor and the way Clinton Portis played the other night, they're going to be unbelievable."
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