Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler had an extremely rough childhood, and during his rise to NBA stardom, he's made a point of not dwelling on it or living in the uncomfortable past.
In a recent interview with ChicagoMag.com, Butler claims to have so much distaste for his past that he physically removed the rearview mirror from his vehicle just to make sure he never looks back.
Still, he loathes reliving the past -- so much so that he has removed the rearview mirror on his car (yes, really) as a symbolic reminder to never look back. His coach at Marquette University, Buzz Williams, says Butler was so sensitive about his upbringing that he swore Williams to secrecy while playing for him.
When I ask why he hates talking about the past so much, Butler shifts uncomfortably on the sectional in the grand San Diego house. "It's because I don't ever want that to define me," he says. "I hated it whenever it came up because that's all anybody ever wanted to talk about. Like, that hasn't gotten me to where I am today. I'm a great basketball player because of my work. I'm a good basketball player because of the people I have around me. And if I continue to be stuck in the past, then I won't get any better. I won't change, I'll get stuck as that kid. That's not who I am. I'm so far ahead of that. I don't hold grudges. I still talk to my family. My mom. My father. We love each other. That's never going to change." In fact, the day I visited Butler, his father was staying with him.
(Butler's less-than-idyllic upbringing may explain the roots of one ritual that has become a rule with him and his roomies: When you go to the grocery store, you pay the bill of the person behind you in line. "I don't care how many groceries they have. It could be a 99-cent ice-cream cone or a $2,000 grocery bill," says Butler. "We have been so blessed. It's fun.")
There's a strong possibility Butler was joking here, and trying to make a point about just how focused he is on the present and the future. After all, is it even legal to drive around the Chicago area without a rearview mirror firmly in place?
Either way, it's clear that Butler has emerged as the Bulls' best player by focusing on the here and now.
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