In the 2011 NBA Draft, Marquette’s Jimmy Butler was selected with pick 30 by the Chicago Bulls.

Whilst that’s the starting point for what will hopefully become a successful professional career, it all could have turned out very differently.

Without a father from an early age, Jimmy was kicked out of home by his own mother at the age of 13.  Her last words to him were, “I don’t like the look of you.  You gotta go.”

After moving from house to house, with no money, no parents and no support structure, he was eventually taken in by the Leslie family who already had 7 children of their own, but generously opened their home and hearts to Jimmy in his senior year of high school.

Jimmy then had to contend with a high school coach and principal who didn’t believe in his abilities.  This lack of faith in him, when coupled with the low profile of a small town school in Tomball, Texas, led to no college scholarships coming his way.

However, he didn’t give up on his dream and enrolled at a local junior college, dominating the competition and leading to a long queue of high profile colleges offering him scholarships the following year.  He eventually chose Marquette, not for its basketball program, but its academic record.  Taking the advice of his new mum, Michelle Lambert, to make sure that he has a degree behind him in case things don’t work out.

Things worked out just fine.

Butler got better every year, resulting in his name being called out in the first round of the NBA draft, a remarkable achievement.

Jimmy Butler had every excuse to fail.

  • Kicked out by his own mother.
  • Moving from house to house during his high school years.
  • No-one believing in his ability.

He would have been excused for feeling sorry for himself and become another bad luck story.  But he chose not to.

Jimmy says it best, “It’s taught me that anything is possible. 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.”

If you have a dream, chances are there are obstacles that can stop you from achieving it.  If you let them.

Don’t feel sorry for Jimmy Butler, he wouldn’t want you to.

Be inspired by his tale of overcoming adversity to develop into the player and most importantly, the man, that he has become.

Jimmy, I’ll be watching your career with interest and know that if you bring the same work ethic and self belief to your NBA career, then a long and prosperous journey is ahead of you.

I have a few questions for my readers today.

Are your obstacles as big as Jimmy Butler’s?  If not, why do you let them hold you back?

Is there a young person around you who could benefit from your mentoring, generosity and care, just as the Leslie family supported Jimmy Butler?

Previous post – The Difference Between Resources and Resourcefulness

Next post – What Can We Learn From Road Trips?