Early life and high school
Before the 2011 draft, one NBA general manager said about Butler, "His story is one of the most remarkable I've seen in all my years of basketball. There were so many times in his life where he was set up to fail. Every time, he overcame just enormous odds. When you talk to him — and he's hesitant to talk about his life — you just have this feeling that this kid has greatness in him."
Butler's father abandoned the family when he was an infant. By the time he was 13 years old and living in the Houston suburb of Tomball, his mother kicked him out of the house. As Butler remembered it in a 2011 interview, she told him, "I don't like the look of you. You gotta go." He then bounced between the homes of various friends, staying for a few weeks at a time before moving to another house.
In a summer basketball league before his senior year at Tomball High School, he was noticed by Jordan Leslie, a freshman football and basketball player at the school, who challenged him to a three-point shooting contest. The two immediately became friends, and Butler began staying at Leslie's house. Although his friend's mother and stepfather, who had six other children between them, were reluctant at first, they took him in within a few months. Butler would later say, "They accepted me into their family. And it wasn't because of basketball. She [Michelle Lambert, Leslie's mother] was just very loving. She just did stuff like that. I couldn't believe it.
As a senior at Tomball High, Butler averaged 19 points and 8 rebounds per game in the 2006–07 season. He was subsequently voted his team's most valuable player.
Butler was not heavily recruited coming out of high school and chose to attend Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas. After his freshman season, he transferred to Marquette University, where, as a sophomore in the 2008-09 season, he averaged 5.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game, and recorded a free-throw percentage of .768. Butler moved into the starting lineup as a junior during the 2009-10 season and averaged 14.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and earned All-Big East Honorable Mention honors. His season was highlighted by two game-winning shots vs. UConn and St. John's, helping Marquette finish 11-7 in the Big East and earn its 5th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance.
Butler was selected 30th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, and played off the bench for all of his rookie year.
During the 2012 NBA Summer League, Butler averaged 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. Still, he saw little playing time for the first part of the season. When Butler's teammate Luol Deng, the NBA's leader that year in minutes per game, suffered an injury prior to a January 19 game vs. the Memphis Grizzlies, Butler was finally able to start, and played a full 48 minutes in his first NBA start, scoring 18 points with 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. He continued to play at least 40 minutes in the Bulls' next four games, with 43, 46, 44, and 45 minutes played against the Lakers, Pistons, Warriors, and Wizards, respectively. On April 9, 2013, Butler scored a career-high 28 points starting in place of the injured Deng in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. By the end of the 2012-13 season, Butler had become a staple of the Bulls' rotation, averaging 40.8 MPG in the postseason in just his second year in the NBA.
NBA career statistics
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field goal percentage||3P%||3-point field goal percentage||FT%||Free throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game||Bold||Career high|