New Bull Jimmy Butler is a pro, despite his tough childhood

June 30, 2011

(Chris Trotman/Getty)
Bulls first-round pick Jimmy Butlerm, who will help Derrick Rose run the court, had a tough road to the pros.

Some Chicago Bulls fans may have been looking for a rough-and-tumble bruiser to support point guard Derrick Rose, to beat off Miami’s Big Three, and take the Bulls to the promised land of the NBA Finals.

With their first-round Draft pick, the Bulls selected shooting guard/forward Jimmy Butler out of Marquette University.

A bruiser Butler is not.

He’s a soft-spoken character player with a “team-first” mentality. As such, he’s unlikely to throw down with the Lakers’ Ron Artest or get into a verbal back-and-forth with hot-headed Celtic Kevin Garnett. But that doesn’t mean he’s not tough.

WBEZ sports reporter Cheryl Rate-Stout caught up with the newest Bull and some of the people who helped him go pro, including Michelle Lambert, the woman Butler calls “mom.” At 13, the Houston native’s birth mother kicked him out of the house. He spent his teenage years bouncing between friends’ houses, trying to stay out of trouble. Then, as a high school senior in Tomball, Texas, Butler faced off in a three-point contest with Lambert’s son, upcoming freshman Jordan Leslie. The two became close friends, and Butler spent a few nights at Leslie’s place before Lambert stepped in.

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After a year at a junior college in Tyler, Texas, the up-and-coming Butler joined the Division I team at Marquette. His entrance into the school’s squad was decidedly untraditional, according to Marquette’s Head Coach, Buzz Williams.

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Williams says that while Butler is a solid player, it’s his strength of character that got him to the NBA Draft.  It’s also why Williams says they will miss him in Milwaukee and why Butler will fit in so well with Bulls’ Head Coach Tom Thibodeau’s squad.

Butler was not present in New York when the Bulls drafted him; he was at home in Texas. But that didn’t stop him from celebrating.

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Michelle Lambert says she knows it’s that same character that will ensure her son’s success with the Bulls.  

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