“I Give Her the Credit for Helping Me Become Who I Am.” NBA Star Jimmy Butler’s Chosen Family and the Mother Who Stepped In
“I don’t like the look of you. You gotta go.”
These were the last words Jimmy Butler heard his biological mother say before kicking him out of the house at just 13 years old. Butler spent the following years couch-surfing with friends until his senior year of high school when he met a boy named Jordan Leslie. The two became fast friends, and Jimmy started spending more and more time at his house where he met Michelle Lambert, Jordan Leslie’s mother. Michelle and her husband already had a full house of kids—seven to be exact—but after a few months, they made it official and invited Jimmy to live with them.
But Michelle and her husband instituted some ground rules for Jimmy: curfew, attend class, improve academic performance, and most importantly: be a role model, especially since their kids looked up to him. Michelle said Jimmy did everything she asked without question.
Michelle’s unwavering support continued through high school and college. When Butler closed out his college basketball career in 2011, it was Michelle who walked him across the court on Senior Night. In an ESPN interview, Michelle said, “I cried the entire time. He had accomplished so much. I was both happy and proud. Everyone doubted him.” She added, “Jimmy always talks about what we did for him. I’m not sure he understands what he did for us. He changed our life, too. We are better people for having him in our family.”
Jimmy felt the same, saying, “I give her the credit for helping me become who I am. I love her. You would think that she gave me birth. I talk to her every morning. She’s very loving. That’s my family. That’s Michelle Lambert. She is my mom.”
Jimmy Butler was drafted by the Chicago Bulls later that year and has played in the NBA since. He is currently in his fourth season with the Miami Heat who just clinched a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. To support Jimmy and the Miami Heat, check out the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals this Wednesday, May 17th, on TNT.