Skip to content
left arrowBack right arrow NBA right arrow Jimmy Butler: His Life Story

NBA | June 8, 2023

Jimmy Butler: His Life Story

Jimmy Butler: His Life Story

Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat poses for a portrait during media day - Michael Reaves/Getty Images/AFP

Jimmy Butler’s Harrowing Story - From Homeless Kid to NBA Superstar

The path to NBA stardom isn’t always the same for every player. Some players like Steph Curry had fathers who played in the league but had to work hard to prove themselves while players like LeBron James came from nothing but were born with otherworldly athletic traits. Jimmy Butler may have one of the most harrowing stories among NBA superstars.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Jimmy Butler (@jimmybutler)

The Miami Heat forward has had a very unique path to where he is now. Despite becoming a household name during the 2014-15 season with the Chicago Bulls, anyone that follows NBA news knows that Butler has had a hard time sticking with one team. He was traded away from the Bulls only to have brief stints with the Minnesota Timberwolves and Philadelphia 76ers before finally landing with the Heat. It’s fitting that a man who had such a turbulent youth to have a turbulent NBA career but it has all worked out for him in the long run.

Butler was born in Houston, Texas in 1989 and was abandoned by his father when he was still an infant. He was raised by his mother until he was 13 when he was kicked out of the house. "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go,” is what Butler’s mother said to him when she kicked him out. She didn't like that he looked a lot like his father, according to a 2011 interview with ESPN.

That’s a hard thing for a person of any age to hear, let alone a 13-year-old. Butler had to get creative with where he was going to live. While some would qualify him as homeless, he has made it clear that he always had somewhere to lay his head, despite what the NBA rumors say.

“I was not living under a bridge,” Butler said in a 2015 interview. “That's homeless. Or standing on the corner asking for change. That's not what it was. I'm not going to say it was the easiest of times, don't get me wrong, but I had a home. Or homes."

Butler would go from a friend's house to another friend's house until he met a man named Jordan Leslie prior to his senior year at Tomball High School. The two became friends after competing in a three-point contest and he was eventually taken in by the family. Leslie’s mother was a woman named Michelle Lambert, who already had seven kids living in the house. Despite that, she was willing to add Butler to the mix but he had to follow rules that he didn’t have to before. Now that he finally had a family, he respected them, which led to his life turning around.

"They accepted me into their family," Butler said. "And it wasn't because of basketball. She was just very loving. She just did stuff like that. I couldn't believe it."

@bunsacollective What a story! 🥹 #jimmybutler #miamiheat #nba #nbaplayoffs #basketball #texas #marquetteuniversity #fosterparents #Homeless #fyp #bunsa ♬ Experience (Cover Ludovico Einaudi) - 北昼

Despite the fact that Butler was abandoned by his biological parents at a young age, he has reconciled with them. He revealed in a 2015 interview with Chicago Magazine that he doesn’t hold anything against them. “That's not who I am,” he said. “I'm so far ahead of that. I don't hold grudges. I still talk to my family. My mom. My father. We love each other. That's never going to change."

Playing basketball in college wasn’t easy either, Butler attended Tyler Junior College as he wasn’t heavily recruited by NCAA teams. He played well during his lone year at Tyler and was eventually recruited by a number of Division 1 teams. He got an athletic scholarship at Marquette where he spent three years. This led to him being a first-round pick of the Bulls in the 2011 NBA Draft. All these years later, Butler has a chance to win his first NBA championship.

Butler has been underrated his entire life and that hasn’t changed. Not many players could lead this Heat roster to the NBA Finals but that’s exactly what the veteran forward has done. Beating the No. 1 seed Denver Nuggets would be a perfect encapsulation of his life story.

Related Articles

“I can teach you how to carry your own team” – Giannis to Durant “I can teach you how to carry your own team” – Giannis to Durant
Ja Morant Saga in Full Swing Ja Morant Saga in Full Swing
Remembering Some of the Most Shocking Scandals in NBA History Remembering Some of the Most Shocking Scandals in NBA History