Jimmy Butler, born in the outskirts of Houston, had the support of his loving family that lead him to become an NBA All-Star. But, not by his birth parents.
Butler never knew his father growing up, and his biological mother wasn’t the most nurturing either. At only 13 years old, she had these final words for her son:
“I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go.” Imagine hearing your mom speak those words…
For Jimmy Butler, this was a harsh reality. However, he chose to never be a victim of his circumstances. During his late middle school and early high school years, he went couch hopping from one friend or teammates house to the next.
It was a life Jimmy got accustomed to and served him well for the time being.
This was also the same time in his life when Jimmy Butler decided to quit football.
According to Jimmy, he hated practicing football in the hot summer weather, plus he was only about 5’3” when he was 13 years didn’t want to “get crushed” by the bigger guys on the field. Basketball was his next sport of choice, marking the birth of Jimmy Buckets.
Jimmy continued bouncing from one house to another throughout high school until the summer before his senior year. A freshman, Jordan Leslie, now a Wide Receiver for the Denver Broncos changed his life. The two hit it off and became friends, and soon after, family.
It all started when Jordan told Jimmy he could spend the night over his house. One night led to a couple, a couple nights to weeks, weeks to months, & the rest is history. Jordan’s mom, Michelle Lambert, accepted Jimmy with open arms. There were already 7 children in the family, but Michelle was able to give Jimmy the home he deserved.
“They accepted me into their family, and it wasn’t because of basketball… She was just very loving. She just did stuff like that. I couldn’t believe it.” -Jimmy Butler on Michelle Lambert and his new family
Michelle continued supporting Jimmy when he went off to play college basketball at Marquette University in Wisconsin, the first time Jimmy Butler stayed outside of Texas.
Fighting homesickness, Butler considered leaving Marquette and moving back home to Texas, but his mom Michelle insisted that he should see the opportunity through. And her advice didn’t disappoint.
Jimmy Butler lit up Marquette his junior year and declared for the NBA draft soon after. He’d be the last pick in the first round, selected by the Chicago Bulls. Undoubtedly the sleeper of his draft.
After being homeless as a child, Jimmy Butler not only became an NBA Star (a very rich one too), he had a loving family to experience and share the memories of his success and dreams.
Don’t let this story have you left feeling too sorry for Jimmy Buckets, because that’s not what he’d want.
As he told ESPN: “Please, I know you’re going to write something. I’m just asking you, don’t write it in a way that makes people feel sorry for me… I hate that. There’s nothing to feel sorry about. I love what happened to me. It made me who I am. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve faced. Please, don’t make them feel sorry for me.”
So, let us be clear. The purpose of this story isn’t to ask sympathy for what Jimmy Butler went through, it’s to acknowledge how far he’s come. To acknowledge anything is possible, especially when you’re not alone.