Michigan State cornerback Josh Butler lost both his mother and father in the span of his five-year college career. In their stead, Butler was accompanied by his dogs Roxy and Remi ahead of Saturday's Senior Night matchup against Maryland.
Butler adopted both dogs while he coped with losing his parents. Raising the boxer and red-nosed bulldog mixes has been an outlet for him, just as football was when his father died.
In 2017, Butler learned of his father's passing just hours ahead of Michigan State's matchup with Penn State. While Butler was hurting, he decided to "play hard," just as his father, Steven Butler, said to him through text that morning. The Spartans fought back for the upset victory, 27–24.
“I just felt I had to play for him,” Butler told the Lansing State Journal.
A year and a half after losing his father to a heart attack, Butler lost his mother, Ladrida Bagley, to Stage 4 breast cancer. He drove 18 hours to Dallas to see her before she died, then had to plan her funeral.
While Butler's parents separated before their deaths, he went through the difficult times with his four brothers.
Players are regularly accompanied by their family on Senior Night, but Butler brought his dogs, who have become as much a part of his daily routine as family. Butler has made Roxy and Remi social media stars on his video platform, "Josh Butler TV."
Butler wears his father's crematory tag around his neck, and has a tattoo on his left shoulder of a pink ribbon that represents breast cancer awareness.