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From homeless to NBA stardom: the Jimmy B story

Updated: Oct 12, 2020

As everyone knows, Jimmy Buckets has been playing at an absurd level in the past few weeks. But we may not know is that he wasn't always so successful in life. Here's Butler's road to becoming an NBA superstar.

Jimmy Butler was born in Houston, Texas and his father abandoned him with his mother just years later. By the time Jimmy was 13, his mother kicked him out of the house because she didn't "like the look of" him. He was bouncing from couch-to-couch from weeks on end, before completely moving in with Jordan Leslie. The story of how the two met is not staggering, but the result was.


Butler was at a summer basketball league, where Leslie, a football and basketball player, noticed him. Jordan challenged Jimmy to a three-point contest, and they instantly became friends. Butler started staying over at Leslie's house. Although Leslie's parents were reluctant at first, they eventually accepted him as a part of their family. Jimmy stayed with six of Leslie's siblings in the house and they became very close. Despite being another household, Jimmy was still connected with his family, saying, "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."


In Tomball High, Butler went from averaging 10 PPG as a junior to 19.9 PPG and 8.7 RPG as senior and the team's captain. He was subsequently voted as the MVP of his team. Butler went unranked coming out of high school, and he chose to attend Tyler Junior College. There, he averaged 18.1 PPG, 7.7 RPG, and 3.1 APG. Many D-1 programs showed interest in Butler and he was ranked as the No. 127 junior prospect in 2008. As for Leslie, he went to the NFL.


Butler was offered an athletic scholarship from Marquette University for his sophomore year. He went on to average 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds coming off the bench. He was moved up to the starting lineup as a junior, while averaging 14.7 points and 6.4 rebounds and earning an All-Big East Honorable Mention. He capped off this season with two game-winners, against UConn and St. John's, and helping Marquette earn its fifth consecutive NCAA appearance. As a senior, he averaged 15.7 points and earned an All-Big East Honorable Mention for the second year straight.

Jimmy Butler dunks during a game against Villanova

Fast-forward to the 2011 NBA Draft, where Jimmy would go on to be selected with the 30th overall pick by the Chicago Bulls. He got limited minutes though, as this was the year that the NBA had its lockout. He only played in 42 of the 66 games that season and averaged 2.6 points. In the next season, he played all 82 games and saw significant minutes over the course of the second half of the season. Butler scored a career-high 28 points against the Toronto Raptors, and also got his first 20-10 game with 22 points and 14 rebounds against the New York Knicks.

Butler guarded by Dwayne Wade during a playoff game against the Heat

When Jimmy was with the Bulls, he made a name for himself as one of the NBA's best budding stars. That all changed though, when he was traded to Minnesota, along with Justin Patton. Jimmy Butler was teamed up with Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins, and they were predicted to be the best young trio since James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant on the Thunder in 2012. But problems surrounding chemistry arose, and Jimmy demanded a trade that offseason, indicating that he had no interest to play for the Timberwolves the following year. When Minnesota's front office didn't make a trade, that left Butler no choice but to play. He was eventually traded to Philadelphia, this time, paired with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. This big three made it to the conference semifinals before being eliminated by Kawhi Leonard's historic game-winner. Jimmy Butler's contract expired this offseason, and he decided to sign with Miami. So far, he's faring well with the likes of Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, and Derrick Jones Jr.

Tyler Herro (left), Jimmy Butler (center), and Bam Adebayo celebrate a win during a regular-season game against Chicago, capping off their 17th win of the season

Throughout the years, Jimmy Butler has consolidated his status in the NBA as one of the most hard-working players. In 2014-15, he was named the NBA's Most Improved Players after averaging 20 PPG. Jimmy has been selected to 4 NBA All-Defensive Second Teams, 5 All-Star Games, and 5 All-NBA Third Teams, including this year. He is currently in the Conference Finals against Boston, where the Heat are up 1-0. Although Jimmy was faced with criticism the past two years, for being "selfish", "egoistic", and "arrogant", he has really taken it all well and is leading the Heat to a potential championship run.



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