Leah Labelle, a 2004 American Idol finalist, and her husband Rasual Butler, a former NBA player, were killed overnight in a single-car crash in Studio City, Los Angeles police said today. She was 31, and he was 38.
LAPD says Butler was at the wheel of a 2011 Land Rover that was traveling at a high rate of speed, drove off the roadway and collided with the curb at about 2:25 AM. The vehicle continued in a northwest direction and collided with three parking meters, a concrete wall and several other objects before flipping over twice and coming to a stop inside the parking lot of the shopping mall in 11200 block of Ventura Boulevard of Studio City.
Paramedics pronounced both victims dead at the scene. LAPD Valley Traffic Division officer believe that speed was a factor in the crash.
Leah Labelle Vladowski, known on Idol and professionally as Leah Labelle, finished 12th on Season 3 of the singing competition when it was among the most popular shows on TV. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and raised in Seattle, LaBelle was the only child of Troshan and Anastasia Vladowski who’d immigrated from communist Bulgaria where they were members of famous rock/pop bands. LaBelle, whose uncle was a Bulgarian rock star, started out singing in a local choir before appearing on Idol at age 16. Here is her audition:
Singer Keri Hilson saw a video on LaBelle’s YouTube page in 2009, and LaBelle joined her as a backup singer. She then was spotted by Jermaine Dupri and Pharrell Williams, who eventually signed the Idol alum to a record deal.
In 2011, a sampler for record companies was produced that featured “Sexify.” The track dented the national R&B chart in 2012, but her follow-up single “Lolita” failed to chart. Here’s the video for “Sexify”:
Butler played for 14 NBA teams including the Los Angeles Clippers during a 13-year NBA career. Drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002, he finished his playing days with the San Antonio Spurs in 2016, though he played a few preseason games with the Minnesota Timberwolves before last season. He also appeared on the reality series Khloe & Lamar, opposite his friend and former teammate Lamar Odom and Khloé Kardashian.