Have you ever heard the one about Jimmy Butler being the illegitimate son of Michael Jordan? No, that’s not the start of a joke but an actual rumor that’s been circulating for years and seemingly one that a few people still actually believe to be true. And just to clear things up, no, we are not in that group.
Yes, Jimmy 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.
So how did this crazy rumor get started?
Jimmy Butler was abandoned by his father when he was an infant
Jimmy 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 and raised by his mother, who then 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 until 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 very brief career in the NFL.
Not heavily recruited out of high school, Jimmy Butler attended Tyler (TX) Junior College, transferred to Marquette, and was then drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2011 with the 30th overall pick.
So where does Michael Jordan fit into this story?
The rumor is that Michael Jordan got Jimmy Butler’s mother pregnant but wouldn’t claim the child as it would tarnish his image
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, claimed he received an anonymous tip claiming that Jordan was indeed Butler’s father. While we won’t post the picture that he used here 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 put up. This is what was written 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 so there’s that. Secondly, Michael Jordan didn’t marry his first wife, Juanita, until November 1989 so there’s that. Yes, the two would have been engaged when the alleged affair with Butler’s mother took place and while the whole thing is technically possible, especially given Jordan’s reported history of relationships outside of his official relationships, the whole thing is just crazy. Michael Jordan had an illegitimate son that was drafted by the Chicago Bulls and then endorsed his brand? Come on, even for an MJ story, that’s just nuts.
But that hasn’t stopped people from actually trying to find out if it’s actually true.
Michael Jordan was in Houston in February 1989
The biggest piece of evidence that people have come up with regarding the rumor is that Michael Jordan was in Houston seven months before Jimmy Butler was born, which is actually true. The Chicago Bulls visited the Houston Rockets on February 3, 1989, and MJ was with the team. He 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.
Okay, Michael Jordan was in Houston on February 3, 1989. Jimmy Butler was born on September 14 of that year. There is no record that shows that Butler was born prematurely. With that kind of timeline, he would have been born about two months early. But, again, this entire thing is just pure nonsense so we’ll go ahead and stop here. But you just gotta love the internet sometimes, don’t you?