South Florida Sun Sentinel |
Jun 28, 2021 at 10:20 AM
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At a time people are going back to the movies, Miami Heat assistant coach Caron Butler is about to get into the movies. Or at least his story.
Having collaborated with actor Mark Wahlberg to have his 2015 memoir, Tuff Juice: My Journey from the Streets to the NBA, turned into a Hollywood vehicle, the former Heat first-round draft choice saw that project set back by the coronavirus pandemic.
But now, with a return to something closer to normalcy in the industry, Butler told the Sun Sentinel that production has been cleared to commence.
“We had gotten pushed back,” said Butler, who was back in his hometown of Racine, Wisc., last week for the opening of a Starbucks venture he helped finance as part of community redevelopment. “We were supposed to filming here in Racine right before COVID happened. We went into preproduction.”
And then, like the NBA, there was a reset.
“We had all the guys, the treatment, everything was done,” Butler, 41, said. “So hopefully we can get back in the saddle and get this thing done in the next eight to 12 months.”
The option on the book gives Wahlberg the choice of roles in the project.
“His production crew is going to announce in the next six months, eight months, something like that, that it’s been greenlit,” Butler said, “and we’re going to be here shooting it in Racine.”
The story chronicles Butler’s youth in Racine, his involvement with guns, his arrest and confinement in a youth facility, and his NBA emergence that has included going full-circle with the Heat from 2002 first-round pick out of UConn to a first-year member of Erik Spoelstra’s coaching staff this past season.
Butler became friendly with Wahlberg while playing for the Los Angeles Clippers at the start of last decade. It was during those years that Wahlberg familiarized himself with Butler’s story, suggesting the possibility of a movie treatment. By that stage, Butler already had begun penning his memoir.
The late Kobe Bryant, Butler’s teammate during his time with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004-05, wrote the foreword for Butler’s book, with Butler stressing that Bryant also had been influential in the pursuit of a movie deal.
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The summary of Butler’s book provided by the publisher sets the scene for the screen, “Before Butler had a chance to prove himself on the court, he spent his time trying to prove himself on the streets, as a gang member and drug dealer in his hometown of Racine, Wisconsin. He saw friends gunned down in the bloody street wars near his home, was arrested nearly 15 times and wound up behind bars and in solitary confinement before his 15th birthday.”
Butler has been social active since, including pushing for the abolishment of solitary confinement in youth facilities.
Wahlberg’s production credits include Entourage, The Fighter, Deepwater Horizon, Patriots Day, Instant Family and Lone Survivor.
“I wanted to tell my story because I’m living proof that it is possible to overcome adversity and make a better life for yourself and your family,” Butler said in a statement when the project was announced. “The response from the book was overwhelming and when someone like Mark Wahlberg tells you that your life could be a movie, you listen.”
Because of the reconfigured NBA schedule that bridged the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, this will be Butler’s first offseason as a Heat assistant. He joined the Heat on Nov. 14, 2020, just over a month after the team’s trip to the NBA Finals and weeks before the start of this past season.
“My new life, the transition just happened, in the midst of COVID,” he said. “I’ve been given a crash course. I think I’ve held my own.”