‘The Man Was Homeless’: Heat Star Details Teammate’s Grit, Will

Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo

Getty Heat stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo have developed a natural chemistry.

The respect and love between Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler are palpable. You can see it in the way they interact with each other on the court, and feel it when they talk about each other off it.

So it was no surprise to hear Adebayo glowingly heap compliment after compliment on his “running mate” after the Miami Heat’s victory on Saturday night. The offense ran smoother with Butler back in the lineup, almost seamlessly transitioning to another dimension. Butler, unflinching in his post-game Zoom call, said he expected to come back and win.

“I figured I was going to come back and we was going to win,” said Butler, who also went over 10,000 points for his career. “That’s all that matters.”

Adebayo sat back and marveled at his All-Star teammate. The two have only played together for roughly 65 games but they have natural chemistry, something that Butler demands out of every circumstance.

“He’s wired like that,” Adebayo said. “He doesn’t care about circumstances or situations. The man was homeless, think about that … he was homeless when he was younger. He gonna figure out how to get back to his normal self — and, as you can see, he was playing out of his mind tonight, making the right reads, making the right plays, just feeding off each other.”

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Butler’s Mom Kicked Him Out at 13

The story — one that Butler himself prefers to downplay — was first documented during the 2011 NBA draft. The rising Texas prep star told ESPN about how his birth mother had kicked him out of the house at the age of 13. He had no money in his pocket or family to run to, but he could play basketball. He used it as an outlet while sleeping on friend’s couches.

Finally, a random three-point shooting contest led Butler to a chance meeting with ninth-grader Jordan Leslie and his mom, Michelle Lambert. The Lambert family eventually opened up their doors permanently to Butler — with ground rules, of course — and made sure he’d never be homeless again.

“They accepted me into their family,” Butler said, via ESPN’s Chad Ford. “And it wasn’t because of basketball. She was just very loving. She just did stuff like that. I couldn’t believe it.”

Butler went on to star at Marquette University — the same college that produced Dwyane Wade — and averaged 15.7 points per game as a senior. Scouts started to notice his all-around game and he ended up going 30th overall in the 2011 draft.


‘Winning Takes Care of Everything’

Butler lives and breathes by the philosophy that winning cures everything. Blah, blah, blah, right? Every professional athlete says that only for Butler it’s more than player speak. He truly believes it and emphasized it once again following Miami’s 105-104 win over the Sacramento Kings.

It was their first win since Jan. 20 in Butler’s first game back since Jan. 9. The All-Star forward scored 30 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field.

“Winning always takes care of everything, I’ve always said that,” Butler said. “I believe that we can do it. We got a lot better to get, if we want to talk about winning the championship. Right now, our habits are just really bad but if we tell each other face to face that we can better, and we hold each other accountable, it’s a step in the right direction.”

The Heat (7-12) have a long way to go to once again be considered serious threats to the crown, but there’s plenty of time. Don’t count Butler out. Ever. This time he’s bringing his teammates along for the ride.

“I think I’m a decent player and I maybe give us a little bit better of a chance to win,” Butler said. “But I respect them for how hard they play, how they never give up. I’m just glad that I can be back. I’m glad I can help and be around my dudes.”

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