After a Michigan State cornerback lost both his parents, it was his two dogs who attended his university’s celebratory senior night with him.
During his five-year college football career, Josh Butler had to bury both his mother and father following their tragic deaths. It was afterward that he adopted two dogs: Roxy and Remi. On Saturday evening, both the Boxer and red-nose Pit Bull mixes joined the 23-year-old Butler, on the football field while his teammates had their parents or family members beside them for the milestone game.
“Definitely been a blessed journey since taking the greyhound bus as a kid all the way up to Michigan State, being able to prevail through losing my father in 2017, and seeing my mother pass away in my arms just this year in April from Cancer,” Butler wrote on Instagram. “It has strengthened me as a person, a man of God, and leader.”
“I love everyone who has had an impact on my life! My next big step in earning my Masters this December. It was great to be apart of the Dantonio Era! My Dogs mean the world to me! GO GREEN! I love y’all JBTV out ✌ May my angels keep watching over me above. Joshua 1:9,” he added.
Back in 2017, Butler found out just hours before Michigan State was set to face-off against Penn State that his father, Steven, passed away from a heart attack. At the time, his coaches told Butler it was up to him whether or not he wanted to play in the game.
Josh Butler’s parents sadly passed away while he attended Michigan State.
Tonight, he was joined by his two pups on senior night ❤️
— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) December 1, 2019
Butler said to the Detroit Free Press earlier this year, “I was real close to my dad. He helped me become a better man. I already knew he would’ve wanted me to play in that game.”
He went on to help the Spartans win a 27-24 upset victory that day – something his team chose to dedicate to both Butler and his late father.
Almost a year and a half afterwards Butler lost his mother to Stage 4 breast cancer in April.
“They said it was real bad – Stage 4 then – and they gave her a week to a month to live. She was on hospice and everything. I drove down and spent the rest of my time that I had with her. I drove down April 20 or something. I finished school early and made sure I got everything done early, and I drove down. Just spent the rest of the time that I had,” Butler told the Free Press.
Butler — who wears a chain with his father’s crematory tag and has the breast cancer awareness symbol of the pink ribbon tattooed on his left shoulder in honor of his mother — had the overwhelming task of planning his mother’s funeral before going back to school.
Butler’s coaches refer to him as an “inspiration” to the other players on the team.
“There’s definitely an inspiration for our guys. It is definitely an unbelievable story,” defensive coach Paul Haynes said to the Free Press. “For him to go through what he’s been through, to get his degree, working on his master’s… he’s a kid that has a passion for what he is doing.”
Haynes added, “The rest of our guys notice it. They definitely notice it. When it’s time to sit there and complain, you sit there and look at him, and there ain’t a whole lot to complain about.”
Helping him navigate the tough times were his four brothers, as well as his pets, Roxy and Remi. Roxy and Remi have become little celebs in their own right through Butler’s Instagram page, since the athlete loves to share multiple photos and videos of his two beloved dogs.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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