Jimmy Butler's rise to NBA superstardom is among the most unlikely in the league (2022)

  • Jimmy Butler has cemented himself as a legitimate NBA superstar during the Miami Heat's NBA Finals run.
  • Butler had an unusual path to becoming a star.
  • Butler was kicked out of his mother's house at 13, growing up in Tomball, Texas, and couch-surfed before landing full-time at a friend's house.
  • Butler did not receive any Division I college offers, played at a junior college for a year, then landed at Marquette, where he wanted to quit the team because the coaching staff challenged him.
  • Butler was the last pick in the first round of the 2011 draft, did not break out until his fourth year in the league, then hopped between teams before landing with the Heat.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Jimmy Butler put together one of the all-time great performances in NBA Finals history on Sunday.

With the Miami Heat down 0-2 to the Los Angeles Lakers, Butler scored 40 points on 14-of-20 shooting to go with 11 rebounds and 13 assists to help the short-handed Heat get the win. He became just the third player in NBA history to record a 40-point triple-double in the Finals.

Jimmy Butler's rise to NBA superstardom is among the most unlikely in the league (1)

Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

Butler cemented his place in NBA history and arguably proved he is among the NBA's elite after existing just outside of that space for much of his career. Butler has been an All-Star for years but is now proving he can be a No. 1 player on a title-contending team.

That Butler got to this stage at all is one of the most impressive and unlikely stories in the NBA.

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Butler was homeless for a time while growing up

As Chad Ford reported for ESPN before the 2011 NBA Draft, Butler's mother one day told him: "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go."

At 13, Butler was kicked out of his house, with nowhere to go. Ford reported that Butler's father hadn't been in the picture since he was an infant.

Butler couch-surfed for years in Tomball, Texas, and had a reputation as a troublemaker. He often moved every few weeks.

A family took him in during high school

He told ESPN in 2017 that he doesn't think of himself as having been truly "homeless." He also avoids discussing his upbringing, telling Bryan Smith of Chicago Magazine in 2015 that he removed the rearview mirror in his car because he doesn't like looking back.

Going into Butler's senior year of high school, the Lamberts, a local family in Tomball with seven kids, took Butler in after becoming friends with their son. At first, Butler only stayed over a few nights a week, but they eventually agreed to take him in full-time if he did chores and improved his grades.

Butler went to junior college after not receiving any interest from DI schools

Though Butler was named all-district first-team after averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds per game his senior year of high school, he didn't receive interest from big schools. According to Ford, Butler's college prospects were hurt by not playing AAU basketball.

Butler ended up going to Tyler Junior College, about three hours north of Tomball. There, Butler drew national attention with a series of 30- and 40-point games. He led the team in scoring his freshman year.

According to Ford, by April of 2008, Butler had offers from Marquette, Kentucky, Clemson, Mississippi State, and Iowa State.

(Video) The TRUTH About Jimmy Butler's Polarizing NBA Career

Michelle Lambert convinced Butler to choose Marquette because of its academic offerings.

Butler wanted to quit basketball at Marquette

Butler faced a steep learning curve when he got to Marquette. Head coach Buzz Williams continually tested Butler's fitness and toughness.

Jimmy Butler's rise to NBA superstardom is among the most unlikely in the league (2)

Joe Raymond/AP Images

Marquette coaches and players told The Athletic's CJ Moore that Butler was forced to do defensive drills repeatedly. He also worked with assistant coaches on finishing through contact, with coaches hitting Butler with pads and frustrating him.

"After a workout, he would say, 'Coach I'm quitting,'" assistant coach Dale Layer told Moore. "And I'd say, 'Jimmy, just come back tomorrow, just come back tomorrow' … Then he was about to quit again, and he said, 'Buzz is trying to run me up out of here.' I said, 'Yeah, because you're a good player, Jimmy, but you're not in shape, and you're not tough enough, and he's got to get the best out of you.'"

Butler averaged just 5 points in 19 minutes per game in his first year at Marquette. However, over time, he got into better shape, and things clicked for him.

During his second year at Marquette, Butler averaged 14 points and 6 rebounds in 34 minutes per game and became the program's most driven player.

"As his career unfolded, before practice, he would run over to me: 'Coach, you going to be soft today or you going to be hard?'" Williams told The Athletic. "'Jimmy, I've got it.' 'Oh, you're saying I got more energy than you today?' ... He thrives on that. He would hold me accountable to that. 'You coach me today. You coach me as hard as you want today, Coach.' He said it, and he meant it. He wanted everything to be grueling. He wanted it."

(Video) Shaq And Chuck Get HEATED During This Debate About Jimmy Butler | NBA on TNT

Butler has been known as one of the hardest-working players in basketball ever since.

Butler was the last pick in the first round of the 2011 draft

The Chicago Bulls took Butler with the 30th pick in the 2011 draft.

Butler's draft stock rose thanks to a solid senior season at Marquette, winning MVP at the Portsmouth Invitational, and strong pre-draft workouts. A scouting profile from ESPN even fairly accurately projected Butler as a smooth scorer, tenacious defender, and impactful player on the court. Despite that, he nearly fell to the second round to a team with many mouths to feed.

Butler's breakout didn't come until his fourth season in the NBA

Butler proved himself to be a useful 3-and-D wing over the first three years with the Chicago Bulls, but he was largely overshadowed by players like Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, and Joakim Noah.

Jimmy Butler's rise to NBA superstardom is among the most unlikely in the league (3)

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Images

However, in 2014-15, Butler exploded, averaging 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists per game en route to winning Most Improved Player and making his first All-Star team. Butler suddenly showed he could create his own offense and be the No. 1 option on a good team.

Brilliantly, he turned down a four-year, $44 million extension from the Bulls before the season. He instead signed a five-year, $95 million contract the next offseason.

Butler bounced around, failing to find a home

Butler looked in danger of becoming a journeyman who never lasted anywhere long.

After a failed re-tool around Butler, the Bulls traded Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2017. Butler played less than two seasons, demanding a trade after just one year. He famously dominated a Wolves scrimmage in training camp after asking for a trade, shouting, "You f---ing need me" to management along the sidelines.

(Video) Jimmy Butler is Actually Michael Jordan’s Son…

Butler was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers during the 2018-19 season. He immediately made headlines for challenging head coach Brett Brown in a tense meeting.

Jimmy Butler's rise to NBA superstardom is among the most unlikely in the league (4)

Matt Slocum/AP Images

The marriage didn't last long. Though Butler played well in Philadelphia, the Sixers were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs. Butler hit free agency and was not brought back. There has been mixed reporting as to whether the Sixers did not want to re-sign Butler, or if Butler refused to re-sign with the Sixers.

He joined the Miami Heat in free agency, via a four-team sign-and-trade, signing a four-year, $140 million contract with the Heat. Some teams reportedly balked at the idea of giving Butler, who turned 31 in September, a max contract.

Butler and the Heat have become a match made in heaven

Jimmy Butler's rise to NBA superstardom is among the most unlikely in the league (5)

Nick Wass/AP Images

After the Heat's Game 3 win in the Finals, head coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters that Dwyane Wade had firmly told Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley that Butler was "the guy" to lead Miami.

Butler's devotion to working hard and eschewing nonsense has fit in perfectly with Miami's hard-nosed culture. In August, ESPN's Brian Windhorst wrote that the Heat have never fallen as hard for a player as they have for Butler.

The Heat still face an uphill battle against the Lakers, but even if they don't win another game in the series, Butler has proven to the basketball world that he's a full-blown superstar, even if he took an unconventional route to get there.

  • Read more:
  • Jimmy Butler says he mocked LeBron James and told the Lakers they were 'in trouble' after a masterpiece Game 3 Finals win
  • LeBron James walked off the court early during the Heat's Game 3 win and said it was partly out of frustration
  • LeBron James' best teammates, ranked
  • LeBron James' abrupt exit from the Heat infuriated Pat Riley and sent the team down a risky path back to championship contention

FAQs

How did Jimmy Butler get to NBA? ›

Butler was drafted with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. In 2015, he was named the NBA Most Improved Player. After six seasons in Chicago, he was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in June 2017. Butler was again traded in November 2018, this time to the Philadelphia 76ers.

How much does Jimmy Butler earn? ›

Did Jimmy Butler get married? ›

Butler, a six-time NBA All-Star professional basketball player, missed his first three NBA games between 2019-2020 because Nowak gave birth to their first child.
...
Quick Facts: Kaitlin Nowak.
Full NameKaitlin Nowak
Skin ColourFair
Marital StatusUnmarried
PartnerJimmy Butler
KidsRylee Butler(Daughter)
27 more rows
9 Sept 2022

How did Jimmy Butler grow up? ›

Jimmy Butler has cemented himself as a legitimate NBA superstar during the Miami Heat's NBA Finals run. Butler had an unusual path to becoming a star. Butler was kicked out of his mother's house at 13, growing up in Tomball, Texas, and couch-surfed before landing full-time at a friend's house.

Why did 76ers trade Jimmy Butler? ›

The Sixers had traded for Butler the previous fall after he'd lost faith and basically snarled his way out of Minnesota in the hopes his competitive spirit and veteran savvy would help take their young superstar duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to the next level. It did not go as planned, however.

Is Jimmy Butler a Hall of Famer? ›

He doesn't need to win an NBA Championship to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, the answer is yes, Jimmy Butler is a HOF lock. He doesn't have a big resume like other players who won NCAA tournaments and other big awards, but with the NBA-All Team selections and other awards that he already has, it's more than enough.

What is Tyler Herro salary? ›

This past year, however, he bounced back to win 2022 Sixth Man of the Year honors. Suddenly, it was then time to discuss a rookie extension, and as October arrived, Herro and the Heat came to terms and agreed to a four-year, $130 million contract.

Who is the highest paid NBA player 2022? ›

With pretax earnings of $124.5 million from his 2022-23 on-court salary plus annual off-court cash from endorsements, licensing fees and other business endeavors, James will be the highest-paid NBA player ever, topping the estimated $121.2 million he raked in over the 12 months ending in May.

Why was Jimmy Butler kicked? ›

But that did not last long, as Butler revealed in an interview years ago that his mother kicked him out when he was just 13 years old. She didn't like the way he was behaving and told him to leave the house. "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go."

How much is Butler worth? ›

He was drafted with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. Butler would play six seasons for the Bulls and be instrumental in their NBA Playoffs appearances in five of those. As of October 2022, Jimmy Butler's net worth is estimated to be $60 Million.

What did Jimmy Butler mom say to him? ›

Who is the oldest NBA player? ›

Udonis Haslem signed a deal with the Miami Heat to come back for his 20th NBA season. Few players are able to stick around into their 40s.

Does Butler have a ring? ›

Jimmy Butler has not won any championships in his career.

What is Jimmy Butler known for? ›

The Chicago Bulls selected Jimmy Butler with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Chicago Bulls had a stacked team, so minutes for Jimmy were hard to come by during his rookie year. His coaches were impressed by his hard work and the hours he put into the gym.

What happened between Jimmy Butler and the 76ers? ›

Considering how well the 76ers performed with Butler, he was sure to be re-signed, right? That did not happen. The 76ers opted to go in a different direction, keeping Tobias Harris on a five-year, $180 million deal. Butler hit the free-agent market and decided to sign with the Heat.

What did Jimmy Butler say about the Sixers? ›

Jimmy Butler: “Tobias Harris over me.” Butler's point is clear, but it wasn't like the Sixers chose Harris over him. It was Simmons. Harris did nothing to Butler, but it seems as if the emotions of the win got caught up in this moment.

Did the 76ers choose Harris over Butler? ›

However, when Butler reached free agency in July, Philadelphia chose to re-sign Tobias Harris to a five-year, $180 million contract instead. Butler ended up in Miami on a four-year, $142 million deal, and he agreed to another four-year, $184 million extension recently.

Are there any NBA mvps not in the Hall of Fame? ›

Of those 34 MVP winners, 26 have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. The only ones who haven't been selected to the Hall of Fame are either still active or not yet eligible (Dirk Nowitzki).

Is Steph Curry Hall of Famer? ›

Steph Curry will be inducted into Davidson Hall of Fame, have number retired. CHARLOTTE, N.C. — One day after winning his fourth NBA championship, it was announced that Steph Curry would be inducted into the Davidson College Hall of Fame, and have his No.

Will Chris Paul make the Hall of Fame? ›

He's a surefire future Hall of Famer. He ranks third behind Magic Johnson and John Stockton on the NBA assists per game list. He holds the record for most consecutive games with a steal (108) and is the only player in NBA history to lead the league in assists and steals two straight seasons.

What sport pays the most? ›

The NBA is the professional sports league with the highest player salary worldwide, with each player earning a magnificent $8.32 million annually.

Who is the most famous basketball player ever? ›

1. Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is widely known as the game's greatest player—and for good reason.

What is the highest paying occupation? ›

Highest Paying Occupations
OCCUPATION2021 MEDIAN PAY
AnesthesiologistsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
OrthodontistsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
Oral and maxillofacial surgeonsThis wage is equal to or greater than $208,000 per year
17 more rows
8 Sept 2022

What is Zion Williamson salary? ›

He's making 26.09 percent more than in 2021/22. He's the 110th best-paid NBA player this year. He was the 119th best-paid NBA player last year.
...
Salary: $13,534,817.
SeasonNew Orleans Pelicans
2023/24$33,500,000
2024/25$36,180,000
2025/26$38,860,000
2026/27$41,540,000
2 more rows

What is Jordan Clarkson salary? ›

What is Devin Booker's yearly salary? ›

Who's the highest paid NFL player? ›

The list is loaded with quarterbacks, with Tom Brady recently taking over the top spot. Below are the 34 highest-paid players in NFL history, heading into the 2022 season and updated with the help of data from Spotrac.com.

How much does Lebron make a hour? ›

That means he'll earn $3,706,249 per month; $855,288.231 per week; $121,849.282 per day; $5,077.053 per hour; and $84.617 per minute; and $1.41 per second.

Who is the highest paid NBA coach? ›

#1 Gregg Popovich - San Antonio Spurs: $11.5 million

With five NBA titles, three Coach of the Year awards 22 consecutive playoff berths for the Spurs between 1998 and 2019, we think this one is well deserved.

Who is Butler's real mother? ›

Where is Jimmy Butler right now? ›

Jimmy Butler

How old is Jimmy Butler? ›

Who is Jake Paul net worth? ›

Jake Paul's net worth

As of October 2022, Paul's net worth is an estimated $38million, according to Forbes.

How rich is Klay Thompson? ›

Thompson is credited as one of the greatest shooters in NBA history. A three-time NBA champion with the Warriors, he is a five-time NBA All-Star and a two-time All-NBA Third Team honoree. As of October 2022, Klay Thompson's net worth is estimated to be $70 Million.

What is the net worth of Selena Gomez? ›

Across her various enterprises and as a result of her prolific performing career, Gomez has an estimated net worth of $95 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

Does Jimmy Butler have a baby? ›

The Early Life of Jimmy Butler's Daughter

She was born as the first child and daughter of her father, Jimmy Butler, and mother, Kaitlin Nowak. What is this? Being born the only child to a duo of an NBA star and a professional model, Rylee is indeed a fortunate kid.

Who was Michael Jordan's wife? ›

Michael Jordan

Is Jimmy Butler mother? ›

What college has the most players in the NBA? ›

Kentucky College is the most prolific school to create NBA careers. At the time of writing, nearly 80 of their college basketballers have gone on to represent an NBA team. The college can boast the start of the careers of Antoine Walker, Cliff Hagen and Dan Issel, among others.

Who's the oldest NFL player ever? ›

Who is the oldest player in NFL history? George Blanda is the oldest player to play in NFL history. Blanda was a quarterback and placekicker who played in the NFL for 26 seasons. He retired in 1975 at the age of 48.

Does Jayson Tatum have a ring? ›

Jayson Tatum has not won any championships in his career.

What is a butler? ›

Definition of butler

1 : a manservant having charge of the wines and liquors. 2 : the chief male servant of a household who has charge of other employees, receives guests, directs the serving of meals, and performs various personal services. Example Sentences Phrases Containing butler Learn More About butler.

Does Derrick Rose have a ring? ›

Derrick Rose has not won any championships in his career.

Is Jimmy Butler a top 5 player? ›

Can Jimmy Butler be considered a Top-5️⃣ player in the NBA? First ...

Is Jimmy Butler one of the best players? ›

Last postseason, however, Butler was one of the league's best players. He posted career bests in scoring (27.4 ppg) while also averaging 7.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists and a league-most 2.1 steals on 50.6/33.8/84.1 shooting splits (60.4 TS%).

How many 40 point games does Jimmy Butler have? ›

Jimmy Butler has 8 games played with 40+ points.

How long has Jimmy Butler been in the NBA? ›

Jimmy Butler has played 11 seasons in his career.

Who is the oldest NBA player? ›

Udonis Haslem signed a deal with the Miami Heat to come back for his 20th NBA season. Few players are able to stick around into their 40s.

What team did Jimmy Butler get drafted to? ›

What did Jimmy Butler mom say to him? ›

How many 40 point games does Jimmy Butler have? ›

Jimmy Butler has 8 games played with 40+ points.

How many 30 point games does Jimmy Butler have? ›

Jimmy Butler has 63 games played with 30+ points.

What NBA player has played for the most teams? ›

No other player has ever played for 13 different teams in the league. Ish Smith was undrafted and started his NBA career in 2010 for the Houston Rockets, but in his first season he already got traded, Rockets sent the 1.83-meter tall Smith to the Memphis Grizzlies.

What college has the most players in the NBA? ›

Kentucky College is the most prolific school to create NBA careers. At the time of writing, nearly 80 of their college basketballers have gone on to represent an NBA team. The college can boast the start of the careers of Antoine Walker, Cliff Hagen and Dan Issel, among others.

Who's the oldest NFL player ever? ›

Who is the oldest player in NFL history? George Blanda is the oldest player to play in NFL history. Blanda was a quarterback and placekicker who played in the NFL for 26 seasons. He retired in 1975 at the age of 48.

Why was Jimmy Butler kicked? ›

But that did not last long, as Butler revealed in an interview years ago that his mother kicked him out when he was just 13 years old. She didn't like the way he was behaving and told him to leave the house. "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go."

Who was in Steph Curry draft class? ›

2009 NBA DRAFT ORDER
No.TeamPlayer
4.KingsTyreke Evans
5.TimberwolvesRicky Rubio
6.TimberwolvesJonny Flynn
7.WarriorsStephen Curry
26 more rows

Does Butler have a ring? ›

Jimmy Butler has not won any championships in his career.

Does Jimmy Butler have a baby? ›

The Early Life of Jimmy Butler's Daughter

She was born as the first child and daughter of her father, Jimmy Butler, and mother, Kaitlin Nowak. What is this? Being born the only child to a duo of an NBA star and a professional model, Rylee is indeed a fortunate kid.

Who was Michael Jordan's wife? ›

Michael Jordan

Where is Jimmy Butler right now? ›

Jimmy Butler

Videos

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