Senior day is typically an emotional affair, with parents marching onto the field with their kids — children one last time as their college careers come to a close.
For Josh Butler, the emotions were something else. The cornerback lost both of his parents while in college at Michigan State, so he walked onto the field with two dogs who have helped him cope with his grief. His father, Steven, died of either a heart attack or a stroke in November 2017, just before Michigan State played Penn State, and he lost his mother, Ladrida Bagley, to breast cancer 18 months later.
Roxy and Remi, adopted after the death of his parents, have become stars in their own right on @joshbutlertv, the Instagram account created by the cornerback who is pursuing a master’s degree in media and information.
“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, 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. 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”
The dogs, a boxer and a red-nosed bulldog mix, aren’t the only remembrance of his folks. He has a tattoo of a pink ribbon, for breast cancer awareness, and wears his father’s crematory tag around his neck. The Bible verse he mentioned on his Instagram post — “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid.” — is tattooed on his chest.
So it made all the sense in the world to have Roxy and Remi on the field with him before the game against Maryland.
“It’s okay to cry sometimes,” Butler told the Lansing State Journal. “At the end of the day, you just have to remember the impact they have had on my life, what they have taught me and how I will keep that as long as I live. Just knowing they are in a better place now and you still have to live your life as well.”
That’s something he and his teammates have discussed, too.
“We talk about the sadness and the negativity about a lot of things because that’s what they remember the most, but there’s also positivity behind any story,” Butler said. “There’s always a rise after the fall.”