Jimmy Butler has been lighting the NBA world on fire during this year’s postseason, leading the Miami Heat to a shocking victory over the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks, defeating them 4-1 in the best-of-seven first round of the playoffs. The victory prompted CBS Sports to declare Butler “the greatest playoff underdog in NBA history.”
As Butler and the Heat continue their 2023 NBA Playoffs run, here are some things you might not know about the 33-year-old basketball superstar.
Butler had a challenging childhood
Jimmy Butler’s father abandoned his family when Butler was an infant, and his mother kicked him out of their house in Tomball, Texas, when he was 13. “I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go,” was what she told him, Butler said.
Butler stayed with various friends for weeks at a time after leaving his family home. Despite their rocky past, however, Butler said in 2015 that he remains close with both his parents. “I don’t hold grudges,” he said. “I still talk to my family.”
Mark Wahlberg is one of his friends
While playing for the Chicago Bulls in 2013, Butler met Mark Wahlberg while the actor was filming a Transformers movie in the Windy City. During a break from shooting, Wahlberg played a pickup basketball game at the Bulls practice facility and struck up a friendship with Butler. They have remained close ever since and have even vacationed in Paris together.
He was 2015’s Most Improved Player
Jimmy Butler won the NBA Most Improved Player Award for the 2014-15 NBA season, after improving from 13.1 points per game to 20, which was the 15th highest in the league that season. His 6.9-point year-over-year improvement was the highest among all players who had appeared in at least 40 games in each of those two seasons, according to the NBA.
“He is incredibly driven, and it is great to see all of the work that he has put in pay off for him and for us,” said Chicago Bulls General Manager Gar Forman. Butler was the first member of the Bulls to win the Most Improved Player Award.
He broke one of Michael Jordan’s records
Not surprisingly, Michael Jordan holds a great many franchise records for the Chicago Bulls, but Butler broke one of them on January 3, 2016, during a 115-113 victory over the Toronto Raptors. Butler scored 40 of his 42 points in the second half, breaking Jordan’s previous Bulls record for most points scored in a single half by one.
He’s a big Neymar fan
Butler developed an interest in soccer during the 2016 Summer Olympics and was there when Neymar led Brazil to a gold medal during those games. He has been a huge fan of the soccer star ever since, and the two became friends shortly thereafter. “Jimmy has a big heart,” Neymar told The New York Times. “Our friendship is based on sincerity and honesty. He is shy, and at the same time, his fun side is what makes him different.”