San Diego State hero Lamont Butler motivated by sister’s death

Apr 1, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; San Diego State Aztecs guard Lamont Butler (5) celebrates with teammates after scoring the game winning shot at the buzzer against the Florida Atlantic Owls during the second half in the semifinals of the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

San Diego State hero Lamont Butler motivated by sister’s death

San Diego State guard Lamont Butler etched his name into Final Four lore with his buzzer-beating shot that defeated Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

The basket gave the Aztecs a 72-71 victory and booked them a spot into Monday night’s championship game against UConn. But excelling in that type of pressure was easy stuff compared to the anguish Butler faced when his older sister, Asasha Lache Hall, was shot and killed 14-plus months ago.

According to news reports, the 30-year-old Hall was killed during an argument inside a house in January 2022 in Hemet, Calif., roughly 85 miles northeast of San Diego.

Hall’s memory is never far from Butler’s mind.

“I think about her every day, ever since she passed,” Butler said Sunday. “She was one of my biggest supporters, and I know she’s up there happy right now, watching me play the game that I love. And I think she was with me with that shot. She probably guided the ball in a little bit. I miss her, and I’m just happy I’m able to do this for her.”

Butler is one of the leaders of the surprising Aztecs. Like most players on the roster, he’s a tenacious defensive player and a top-flight competitor.

And when he learned about his sister’s death, the player who broke the high school scoring record of legendary Reggie Miller at Riverside Poly made an even bigger commitment to basketball.

“It was a crazy moment in my life to even hear that my sister had passed,” Butler said. “But my teammates and my coaches, they gave me time to just decide what I wanted to do. They said if I didn’t want to come back and play, they were fine with that as well. So they just made me comfortable, and they’re also like my second family.”

The emotions hit Butler hard after San Diego State defeated Creighton 57-56 in the Elite Eight, prevailing on Darrion Trammell’s tiebreaking free throw with 1.2 seconds left.

“After their Elite Eight game, he broke down,” his father, Lamont Butler Sr., told reporters in Houston. “But I know it just overwhelmed him thinking about his sister, getting the team to the Final Four, and I think all of it just hit him at one time. I told him I love him and that his sister was watching. And I really think she’s there.”

The younger Butler was amazed Saturday night when he saw replays of his final shot. He had no idea that he nearly stepped on the end line before moving to his left and draining the shot that will be long remembered.

“Dang, I was right there,” Butler said. “That would have been wild to lose a game like that if I stepped out.”

Butler is San Diego State’s third-leading scorer at 8.7 points per game. He leads the club in assists per game (3.3) and steals (56).

–Field Level Media

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