Skip to main content

Have you heard the gossip about Jimmy Butler being the illegitimate son of Michael Jordan? No, that’s not the start of a joke; it’s an actual rumor that’s circulated for years. Seemingly, some NBA fans still believe it to be true. And just to clear things up, no, we are not in that group.

Yes, Butler once had an endorsement deal with Jordan Brand, an agreement that ended earlier this year. And, yes, both once played for the Chicago Bulls. Oh, Butler did once help out at Jordan’s youth basketball camp. But that seems to be about the extent of the relationship between the two NBA stars.

So how did this crazy rumor start?

Jimmy Butler’s father abandoned him when he was an infant

Butler has never tried to hide his past, although he’s tired of people feeling sorry for him. His story is truly remarkable. Born in Houston on September 14, 1989, Butler was abandoned by his father when he was just an infant. His mother raised him until she kicked him out at the age of 13.

Butler stayed at the homes of various friends for a few days or weeks at a time. Then, he was permanently taken in by the family of Jordan Leslie, who attended the same high school and later played wide receiver at BYU before a brief NFL career.

Not heavily recruited out of high school, Butler attended Tyler (TX) Junior College. He transferred to Marquette before the Chicago Bulls drafted him in 2011 with the 30th overall pick. So where does Jordan fit into this story?

The rumor: Michael Jordan got Jimmy Butler’s mother pregnant but wouldn’t claim the child

So here’s how the ridiculous rumor of Jimmy Butler being the illegitimate son of Michael Jordan got started. In February 2016, the self-proclaimed “king of all sports media,” Terez Owens, said he received an anonymous tip. This tip claimed that Jordan was indeed Butler’s father.

While we won’t post the picture he used as we don’t have the rights to it (nor do we want them), this is what the caption said (forgive the spelling and punctuation errors and remember that we didn’t write this):

“Michael Jordan Would Not Clam unwanted Child in 1988 in fear of Destroying Marriage! Child took on mothers name of Butler. It was reported he paid mother off so he would not tarnished his public image & Legacy….& role model figure. After 13 years mother kicked Child out of house hold because payments stop….”

So that was the caption from the picture. This writing appeared above it:

“Jimmy Butler broke the Chicago Bulls’ franchise record for most points in a half set by Michael Jordan earlier in the season. The two have a striking resemblance, and one tipster tells us there’s a reason why. Butler may be MJ’s illegitimate child. This sounds crazy but they do look a lot alike.”

First of all, Jimmy Butler wasn’t born until September 1989. Secondly, Jordan didn’t marry his first wife, Juanita, until November 1989. Yes, the two would’ve been engaged when the alleged affair with Butler’s mother took place. While the whole thing is technically possible, reports Bleacher Report, especially given Jordan’s reported history of relationships outside of his official relationships, the whole thing is just crazy.

Jordan had an illegitimate son who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and then endorsed his brand? Come on, even for an MJ story, that’s just nuts. But this hasn’t stopped people from trying to find out if it’s actually true.

Jordan was in Houston in February 1989

Left picture: Jimmy Butler looks at the basketball hoop from center court. Right picture: Michael speaks to the media as owner of the Hornets.
(L-R) Jimmy Butler; Michael Jordan | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images; Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Michael Jordan Once Skipped a Trip to the White House to Gamble With a Drug Dealer

The biggest piece of evidence cited regarding the rumor: Jordan was in Houston seven months before Butler was born, which is true. The Chicago Bulls visited the Houston Rockets on February 3, 1989, and MJ was with the team.

The NBA star played 45 minutes that night and scored a game-high 29 points on 10-for-24 shooting in the 105-98 loss. The Rockets were simply more balanced that night as all five starters scored 14 or more points, led by Hakeem Olajuwon‘s 20. But I digress.

OK, Jordan was in Houston on February 3, 1989. Butler was born on September 14 of that year. There is no record that shows Butler was born prematurely. With that kind of timeline, he would’ve been born about two months early. But, again, this entire thing is just pure nonsense, so we’ll go ahead and stop here.

You gotta love the internet sometimes.