With UC Irvine’s Men’s basketball opening weekend being slated for Dec. 27 to 28, power forward James Caron “JC” Butler, son of former two-time NBA All-Star Caron Butler, is determined to put his improved skills to the test. Defined on the court by his aggressive playstyle with his ability to handle the ball and score, Butler’s drive and passion for the game runs deeper than simply being a legacy athlete.
Butler exhibited a strong connection to sports even in his early youth as he played a range of different sports such as football, baseball, basketball and soccer in his hometown Racine, Wisconsin. He spent the bulk of his childhood inspired by the world of professional athletics in the hopes of one day becoming a professional athlete himself.
Butler has had an endless love for basketball since his father introduced him to the sport.
“Before I could even walk, he put a basketball in my hands right away,” Butler said.
But he did not consider sticking to basketball until he was around the age of 13 once he began playing for a travel team. Since his father was still in the league during his upbringing, Butler had to navigate his own passion for basketball. He would then go on and set scoring records for his county in high school, picking up several championships along the way. Butler credits his development largely to the people around him.
“At the end of the day, it is me that has to go out and show up on the court. But without the trainers and coaches, I don’t think I would have been able to do what I did back then and become what I am now,” Butler said.
Butler strives to create a name for himself, separate from the accomplishments of his father’s basketball career. “As I’ve gotten a bit older, I kind of want to build on top of that. Because of things he did and how successful he was, why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that?” Butler said.
For the next five years, Butler envisions himself playing in the NBA and having his degree. He would ideally like to play for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers, two teams his father notably played for. Ultimately, his goal is to play in the league regardless of the team that signs him.
Outside of the game, Butler majors in sociology and is a big supporter of Black Lives Matter (BLM). Growing up in a predominantly white state, Butler has a history of being discriminated against and would like to use his voice to share his experience, though he acknowledges the limits to his understanding. Furthermore, Butler wishes to support low-income communities after the conclusion of his basketball career.
“I really just want to make it easier for them—you know, to help people who are less fortunate,” Butler said.
Butler also enjoys shopping for clothes on a dime, preferring to style himself in vintage clothing due to its style and being environmentally safe. Out of his entire team, Butler ranks his antique fashion as having the most “drip” on the team.
“It’s just the style I prefer, that old-type of stuff. It’s very good for my wallet too,” Butler said.
Motivated for the start of the upcoming season, Butler does not expect to pick up where he left off since he last played before dealing with a season-ending injury. However, he does expect to see the fruits of his intensive training and maturity from the last year and a half. Now considered a veteran on his team, Butler hopes to lead his team to a Big West Conference Championship.
Jaidee Maximo Villaflor is a Sports Intern for the 2020 Fall Quarter. He can be reached at email@example.com.