Jeffrey Eisenband, The Post Game (http://www.thepostgame.com/blog/eye-performance/201505/jimmy-butler-chicago-bulls-nba-most-improved-player-basketball-texas”
“I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go.”
Those were the last words Jimmy Butler says he remembers his mother saying to him before, according to his recollection, she kicked him to the curb.
He was 13 years old. There was no family to run to. No place to call home. No money in his pocket.
After leaving his Tomball, Texas, home at 13, Butler did his best to keep his head above water. With his father out of his life since he was an infant, he stayed with friends as long as he could. Usually within a few weeks, he was moving on to a new place — anywhere to lay his head down at night.
“His story,” one GM said. “is one of the most remarkable I’ve seen in all my years of basketball. There were so many times in his life where he was set up to fail. Every time, he overcame just enormous odds. When you talk to him — and he’s hesitant to talk about his life — you just have this feeling that this kid has greatness in him.”
Buzz Williams said, “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. ”
“I was tutored by the best,” Butler said. “Those guys taught me so much about how to play and how to be a man. I knew that to be successful, I had to be more than a scorer. I had to become a leader. It’s not about scoring. It’s about doing what my team needs me to do. I wanna be that glue guy, I want to be a guy my team and my coach can count on. That’s what I want to be.”
Scouts were coming to watch him play all year, but Butler was totally unaware. He said he had no idea he was projected as an NBA player until after the college season had ended. “I was just so focused on our team, on us winning,” Butler said. “It’s not that it wasn’t a dream. Like I said, I was just trying to live one day at a time.”
“It’s taught me that anything is possible,” Butler said. “My whole life, people have doubted me. My mom did. People told me in high school I’m too short and not fast enough to play basketball. They didn’t know my story. Because if they did, they’d know that anything is possible. Who would’ve thought that a small-town kid would become a halfway decent player in college and now has a chance to be drafted in the NBA? That’s my chip. That’s what motivates me. I know I can overcome anything if I just take everything one day [at a] time.”
“I felt like at any level I was at, whether it be junior college or Marquette, I didn’t think I was supposed to be there,” Butler said. “Being from Tomball, and somehow, in some way, with the people in my corner, I found a way to get there. Now that I’m here, I’m just as confident as when I was in junior College or when I was at Marquette. As long as I continue to work, I’ll continue to stay and I’ll continue to get better.”