1. Jimmy Butler became homeless at 13 – his mother threw him out of the house because she thought he was a bad kid – her final words to him: “I don’t like the look of you”. Butler bounced around friends home’s throughout high school until one day classmate Jordan Leslie challenged him to a three-point shoot out. Little did he know, that day would change his life forever. Jordan and his family (2 parents – Michelle and Michael Lambert, 6 children from their previous marriages, and 1 child of their own) became Butler’s primary residence his senior year, and considers them his real family to this day: “That’s my mom, those are my brothers”.Jimmy kept this a secret from most because he didn’t want people feeling sorry for him and treating him differently. But that all changed when he decided to come out with his past and brought Michelle Lambert, his proud mom, to his Marquette senior night.
“Anybody can make it out of any situation if they have the right people around them”
Michelle Lambert: “I told him we will always disagree but there is nothing you can do in the world that would make me walk away from you.” (via Examiner)
“I finally met the Lamberts and they accepted me for who I was and gave me a chance at life, turned me into a better person, taught me a lot of things that I didn’t know growing up. They supported me and always believed in me through the ups and through the downs.” (via UT San Diego)
Photo via CNN
Jimmy shares his story for the first time with ESPN:
2. In his senior year of high school in Tomball, Texas, Jimmy Butler was ranked only the 37th best basketball player in the state.
3. Butler spent a year at Tyler Community College (Texas) after not being heavily recruited from high school. During his one year stint, the point guard on the team was Randall Hampton, one of Derrick Rose’s best friends from Simeon and his current personal assistant.
4. Life motto: Take everything one day at a time.
5. Jimmy Butler’s brother, Jordan Leslie, plays football for the University of Texas at El Paso. Jordan told us that when Jimmy was drafted his family was “really excited because we all know he had the potential to play in the NBA, and it just made it better he went to such a great team”. (via Twitter)
6. Jimmy Butler wore number 33 until he was drafted to the Chicago Bulls. With Scottie Pippen’s jersey retired, Jimmy chose number 21 because: “Two plus one is three, and you have two three’s. Also I wouldn’t be here without my Junior College roommate Joseph Fulce. He went to Marquette with me and he wore 21 so he had a little bit to do with that. He doesn’t know but he had something to do with me choosing 21.” Fulce convinced Jimmy to go to Marquette.
7. On being drafted by the Chicago Bulls: “I just hope I can be a part of the reason the Bulls can get over the hump, and help return them to their, well I guess our, glory days” (via Ultimate Tomball). His highlight of this season came when he was assigned the tough task of guarding New York All-Star Carmelo Anthony in Madison Square Garden – Butler held him to 2 fourth quarter points and also hit a big bucket in the closing minutes to give the Bulls the win.
8. He indulges in a healthy pre-game ritual snack: soda and Sour Patch Kids (not sure if he is still doing this in the NBA!)
9. Pre-game rituals: He always wears something to represent Houston on game day to remind him where he came from and he always calls or texts his “brother” Jermaine Thomas before every game.
“I consider Jermaine Thomas my brother now. I stayed with him for a while before staying with the Lamberts.” (via Daily Herald)
10. All-time favorite movie? The Lion King (via Ultimate Tomball).
11. Favorite NBA player growing up? Tracy McGrady (via Ultimate Tomball).
12. Favorite genre of music? Country
13. Jimmy Butler was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 30th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. A year prior in 2010, college teammate Lazar Hayward was also selected with the 30th pick in the draft. It is the first time Marquette players went back-to-back in the first round since 1977-1978.
14. Butler joins Kaniel Dickens, from 2000, as the only Tyler Junior College men’s basketball players to be drafted into the NBA.
15. He made SportsCenter’s Top 10 at #1: He lost the ball mid-air, got it back, spun and drained a buzzer beating winning jumper at St. Johns:
16. Hit another game winner vs. UCONN:
17. Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA” became his theme song – a long time Cryus fan, he hit the above game winner vs UCONN after a timeout in which the arena unknowingly played the Jimmy Butler pump up jam “Party in the USA” (via Brew City Sports).
18. As seen above, Jimmy has excellent vocal skills – even more evidence of this – watch as the Bulls players get a little hazing in and Butler sings some karaoke in Memphis:
19. Is only the 19th player in Marquette history to score 1,000 points and grab 500 rebounds in his college career. Should be noted again that he came to Marquette as a sophomore – played limited minutes until his junior season. That makes that stat pretty remarkable.
20. Marquette head coach Buzz Williams calls Jimmy “the smartest player [he's] ever coached”. He also added: ”I’ve never been harder on a player than I’ve been on Jimmy. I was ruthless on him because he didn’t know how good he could be. He’d been told his whole life he wasn’t good enough. What I was seeing was a guy who could impact our team in so many ways.” Butler was the first player Buzz Williams signed as he took over the head coach position for Marquette. Williams and Butler have a strong bond, as Jimmy described Buzz as a father figure to him at Marquette senior night.
21. He goes by the Twitter name @mr2eight1 – 281 is his hometown area code, and 21 for his Chicago Bulls jersey number.