College Football Player Who Lost Both Parents Brings His Dogs To 'Senior Night'

by Leah Groth
SI College Football/Twitter

Michigan State University football player Josh Butler was accompanied by his two dogs on senior night, after tragically losing both his parents

During the five years he played football at Michigan State University, cornerback Josh Butler gained a great education and achieved athletic goals. However, he also experienced an incredible amount of personal loss. In the last two years, the 23-year-old’s mother and father both passed away, leaving him without a parent at the team’s annual senior night celebration. But instead of walking on the field alone, Butler was accompanied by two individuals who helped him get through the trying times — his dogs.

“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; it has strengthened me as a person, man of God, and leader,” he wrote in a touching Instagram post, accompanied by a video of the bittersweet moment.

“I love everyone who has had a impact on my life! My next big step in earning my Masters this December. 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’s father died of a heart attack, hours before his team was scheduled to play Penn State. Instead of sitting the game out, he took to the field in his father’s honor.

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

MSU won the game and dedicated the win to Butler and his father.

Then, earlier this year, his mother died after being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.

“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 20th 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.”

In order to help get through the trying times, he adopted two dogs, a Boxer named Roxy and and a red-nose Pit Bull, Remi. The two canines are often featured on the football star’s Instagram page — and even have their own account. They are totally adorable, to say the least.

As for Butler, his coaches praise him as an inspiration.

“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.”

ICYDK, there are many mental health benefits that come with being a dog owner. They can help lower your anxiety, boost your self-esteem, give you an increased sense of purpose and responsibility, and simply drag you out of the house when you feel like isolating. And then there is the fact that they are totally adorable and impossibly kissable. It’s easy to see why so many folks — Butler included — consider them beloved family.