Lamont Butler memorialized with Chula Vista mural

Lamont Butler puts the finish touch to his mural by adding his signature. (Paul Garrison/EVT)

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Lamont Butler with the artists who created his mural. (Paul Garrison/EVT)

From the Greeting from San Diego to the Colossus holding up an overpass in Chicano Park, America’s Finest city loves its murals. As the Padres moved from low-spending MLB after-thoughts to drivers of the trade and free-agent markets, San Diegans responded with paintings across the county.

Buildings inside and out in Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, Downtown, City Heights, Ocean Beach, Grossmont, Kearney Mesa, and Encinitas are adorned with the likeness of Tony Gwynn, Fernando Tatis Jr, Manny Machado, Joe Musgrove, Yu Darvish, and Trevor Hoffman.

On Friday, SDSU guard Lamont Butler joined the list of San Diego athletes honored with their own mural.

“It’s something I couldn’t even dream of when I was a kid to be able to be a staple and an inspiration to younger kids (and) older people,” Butler said of the honor. “It’s just amazing to be in this position.”

At the Otay Ranch Mall, a painting of Butler’s buzzer-beater against FAU will make up part of the decor at the El Pollo Grill. The painting, a creation of local artist Will Salas, commemorates arguably the biggest sports moment in the city’s history.

“He put San Diego on the map in San Diego State’s game last year,” Victor Lopez, owner of the El Pollo Grill, explained when asked what motivated him to partner with Butler. “His buzzer-beater was iconic.”

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The mural is part of an NIL agreement between the restaurant and SDSU’s star guard. It is another in a long list of ways Butler has been able to profit from his surge in popularity following a shot seen in over 170 countries worldwide.

Lopez hopes that El Pollo Grill becomes one of the primary destinations for Aztec fans watching away games. When they do, fans will have a chance to see Butler’s mural for themselves.

Lamont Butler’s teammates came out to support him, including new point guard BJ Davis (left). (Paul Garrison/EVT)

Butler’s camp was vocal this offseason in publicizing the NIL offers, enticing him to leave SDSU and transfer to different universities. Among the offers was a performance-based agreement that could have netted him a million dollars.

Ultimately, Butler chose to remain an Aztec for Life because of the special relationship he has with the city. The mural is something no other NIL collective could offer. Butler’s shot moved him into the rarified air as a sports icon in San Diego. It is a standing few athletes at any level accomplish, and transferring away from SDSU would have tarnished that legacy.

“No one offered me a mural,” Butler said of other NIL overtures. “There’s nothing like this. I came back to San Diego because I loved it. I’m glad to be back, and I’m ready for another good year.”

In addition to the mural, El Pollo Grill honored Butler with his own menu item. After speaking with Butler about his favorite Mexican food dish, Lopez created the Buzzer-Beater Quesadilla, a combination of carne asada, beans, sour cream, guacamole, and three cheeses.

Lamont Butler with his parents. (Paul Garrison/EVT)

The Buzzer-Beater was a natural addition to El Pollo Grill’s menu that includes the 619 Mysterio, named after WWE superstar and Chula Vista native Rey Mysterio, and the Titan, named after the mascot of nearby Eastlake High, among other signature dishes. Supporting Butler and SDSU fulfills Lopez’s vision for his restaurant.

“Anything that has to do with San Diego sports, I’m here to represent,” Lopez explained. “I’m here to help. I’m here to donate. I’m here to do fundraising when it has to do with schools. That’s what we do, what the El Pollo Grill does.”

On hand to sample El Pollo Grill’s newest creation was the majority of SDSU’s men’s basketball team. Boisterous throughout the mural’s unveiling ceremony, Butler’s teammates were quiet and subdued when the food was served. The mellow switch was a sure sign that Lopez’ created a winner.

When asked about his teammates’ support, Butler said it was “huge” because the recipe for success that SDSU followed a season ago started with their bond off the court. This season’s team is picking up when last year’s group left off by supporting Butler at this important event.

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