Michigan State star Josh Butler lost his father in 2017 and his mother earlier this year, in April

By Claudia Harmata
December 01, 2019 01:30 PM
Michigan State's Josh Butler
Credit: Al Goldis/AP/Shutterstock

A Michigan State cornerback who lost both of his parents was accompanied by his two dogs during the university’s celebratory senior night.

During his five-year college football career, Josh Butler buried both his mother and father, and to cope with the tragic deaths, he adopted two dogs named Roxy and Remi. On Saturday evening, the Boxer and red-nose Pit Bull mixes joined Butler, 23, on the football field as his teammates were joined by their parents or family members 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,” the athlete wrote on Instagram. “It has strengthened me as a person, man of God, and leader.”

“I love everyone who has had a impact on my life! My next big step in earning my Masters this December,” he added. “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.”

In 2017, Butler learned his father Steven died of an apparent heart attack, just hours before Michigan State was set to face-off against Penn State. At the time, coaches told Butler the choice to play in the game or not was up to him.

“I was real close to my dad. He helped me become a better man,” Butler told the Detroit Free Press earlier this year. “I already knew he would’ve wanted me to play in that game.”

Butler went on to help the Spartans claim a 27-24 upset victory that day, which the team dedicated to Butler and his late father.

Nearly a year-and-a-half later, Butler’s mother died due 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,” Butler told the Free Press. “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.”

The football player — who wears a chain with his father’s crematory tag and has the pink ribbon tattooed on his left shoulder to symbolize breast cancer awareness — was tasked with planning his mother’s funeral before returning to school.

Butler’s coaches call him an “inspiration” to other players on the team.

“There’s definitely an inspiration for our guys. It is definitely an unbelievable story,” defensive coach Paul Haynes told 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.”

“The rest of our guys notice it. They definitely notice it,” Haynes added. “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 get through the tough times were his four brothers, as well as Roxy and Remi — who have become social media stars on Butler’s Instagram page as the athlete continues to share countless videos of his beloved pets.