Lamont Butler, Ever Steady After His Winning Shot, Buoyed by Family

Lamont Butler Sr. talks about his son, Lamont Butler Jr., who doesn't like a lot of attention but got it after leading San Diego State to the national title game.

Lamont Butler, Ever Steady After His Winning Shot, Buoyed by Family

After all the television cameras had disappeared, and all the reporters' questions had stopped, Lamont Butler Jr. boarded a bus to return to his hotel. The euphoria started to subside. Butler's parents invited him to the lobby to share the moment of his jumper at the buzzer, which sent San Diego State into N.C.A.A. Men's championship game.

Butler stated that he only wanted two things: quiet and a shower.

After he had cleaned up, Butler took an elevator to his parents' bedroom, where he was greeted by his sisters, as well as more than a dozen aunts and uncles, cousins and nieces.

His father, Lamont Sr., stated that Lamont does not like too much attention. He said, "Dad, can you come to my room?" It's overwhelming. He came in, sat down and continued his journey. I asked him, "Do you know that you just hit the largest shot in San Diego State History?" We were happier than he was.

Millions of viewers tuned in to TV to see the moment.

As the clock was ticking down, Butler raced down court, his team trailing by one point. He tried to get 'downhill', as his coach suggested. He didn't panic when Butler was cut at the baseline. He did a one-step dribble left, and then suddenly there was a space. This allowed him to get up and coolly take a jumper off the wing when the buzzer sounded.

Butler stood still as the ball landed in the net.

Aguek Arop was an Aztec forward and was the first one to reach Butler. He wrapped Butler in a bear hug, then lifted him into the air. Soon the cavalry arrived and engulfed Butler. Darrion Trammell, the senior guard stood on his head trying to comprehend what just happened.

Butler remained calm and composed amid chaos, his inner peace keeping him steady.

He smiled but didn't roar. He took in the moment but didn't slap his chest. He was familiar with the scene -- his New Mexico 3-pointer at buzzer had won the Mountain West Conference title. But not quite like this, standing on the center stage of a football stadium.

He told reporters after reporters the same thing, 'I'm just glad it went in'. It was more of a clinical assessment than a thank you for the gift from the basketball gods.

It turns out that Butler was the one who introduced the nation to him.


His mother Carmisha saw in her son, who was only two years old, an old soul. Little Lamont sat down on his basketball while his older sisters played basketball. Man Man was his nickname that he still uses today.

His mother, who was still in tears after the shot, said, "Blessed, Blessed -- That's all I can say," He did it because it was his moment to shine. He did it, and I knew that he would. "I'm overwhelmed and overjoyed.

The Aztecs have been tested on the court as they take each step in this tournament. They were trailing Alabama by 9 points at the half-way point, but rallied to win the round of 16. To beat Creighton in South Regional final, they needed Trammell's cool at the free-throwline. They rallied after being down 14 points in the second period against Florida Atlantic. They led the Owls only once in the second half, at the last horn.

They say it is no coincidence that a long list of trials off the court was a source of inspiration.

Mark Fisher, the beloved son of Coach Steve Fisher, has amyotrophiclateral sclerosis. He attended Saturday's first away game since two years. Arop, one 10-year-old child, fled South Sudan's civil war as a toddler with his parents. He spent three years in an Egyptian refugee camp before he immigrated to the United States.

Arop had to temporarily stop playing basketball due to injuries. Center Nathan Mensah almost had his basketball career ended by a pulmonary embolism. After being shot, the older brother of Keshad Johnson, senior guard, is paralysed from the waist down.

Johnson stated that every athlete must have a purpose for playing basketball. Johnson said that there are many things in life that our guys go through where they have a reason, where they give their blood, sweat, and tears -- not only for their teammates but also their family, friends, and those who depend on them.

It was then that Butler's shot was able to carry additional freight as it rose.

Asasha Hall, his sister, was killed and shot in her Hemet home. Hall was a regular at San Diego State home games and had sat about four rows behind Lamont's bench. He cheered when Lamont did well and scolded him when he didn’t.

Butler stated that he thinks about Asasha every day, and every day since her passing, on Sunday. He has Asasha's photo on his phone's home screen and a necklace that bears her initials. "She was one of my greatest supporters. She's probably up there watching me play the game I love. She was probably there for that shot. She may have guided the ball in a bit.

Butler had to reflect on his life after her death.

He spent time with his sisters and parents. Johnson, his roommate, was a long conversation. He also allowed himself to lean onto the shoulders of his coaches and teammates.

He loved basketball and was a great fan. He had been working on the dribble move that he used to free himself from his own body on Saturday night. He realized that he needed the game as a way to grieve.

Butler stated, "I decided that basketball would make me happy again."

His parents saw their son's joy return to them. Although the healing process may not be perfect, it is happening one day at time. As Butler watched the highlights of the shot flash across the TV screen in their hotel room while he marvelled at them, his father noticed his son's grace and the gift he had given to him.

Lamont Sr. stated that everyone in the room was aware of how expensive it was to travel there. "I told him that he had paid everyone back. They witnessed history last night.