Jimmy Butler’s Daughter Changed His Priorities: ‘I Got to Make Sure Women Are on the Same Level as Men Now’

Fatherhood changes you. Miami Heat small forward Jimmy Butler has spent the past few years learning this. Now, with some distance from a troubled upbringing and the addition of a champion’s mentality, the five-time NBA All-Star has found a newfound passion to advocate for women after the birth of his daughter. Butler’s story, though not yet complete, is already inspiring.

Jimmy Butler goes from homeless in Houston to the Miami Heat

Forward Jimmy Butler speaks to a reporter
Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat is interviewed after a win | Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

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Butler’s upbringing in Houston, Texas, was challenging. His father abandoned his family at a young age. At 13, his mother kicked him out of the house. He spent months bouncing from house to house while going to school. Butler became friends with future Vikings wide receiver Jordan Leslie, whose family took him in.

As team captain of the Tomball High School basketball team, averaging nearly 20 points a game, Butler earned MVP. But not being recruited, he began to attend Tyler Junior College. There, he earned a scholarship to attend Marquette. After graduating, the Chicago Bulls drafted him in 2011, where Butler played for the next six years. Though injuries marred his early years, he made plays throughout 2013-2014. In 2015, he landed a five-year contract worth nearly $100 million.

Butler continued to dazzle with above-average shooting and defending, earning NBA All-Star spots and other recognition with the Bulls. In 2017, he was traded to the Timberwolves and then the Philadelphia 76ers in 2018.

Finally, in 2019, Butler landed at his current home, the Miami Heat, where, in his first season, he helped take the team to the NBA Finals. Despite losing to the Los Angeles Lakers. Butler’s superlative performance, including multiple 30-point triple-doubles and one 40-point triple-double, continues to illustrate why Butler is a true superstar.

Jimmy Butler’s daughter

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As he began his recent stretch with the Miami Heat, Butler’s daughter, Rylee, was born. Like most parents, he’s balancing the demands of fatherhood with work. Like many athletes, Butler trains three times a day. But whereas his training sessions used to start at 4:00 a.m., they now begin a little later, as he can’t bring himself to wake up Rylee.

By Butler’s own admission in a recent GQ profile, his daughter has taught him about unconditional love. He spent three months in the Orlando bubble, missing Rylee the whole time. While he was away, his daughter’s mother, model Kaitlyn Nowak, took care of her. Now, he’s making up for lost time.

Butler has a newfound perspective

Butler told GQ that Rylee has given him a new goal: to teach her that she can achieve whatever she wants to, no matter her gender or race. He’s working to be the best role model he can be for her. This, of course, starts with his dedication on the court. But he’s also taken several steps toward his eventual post-basketball life that can inspire her to achieve her dreams.

One of these steps is a marketing and branding agency called Curated Hue, which he opened. In the bubble, he started a business called Big Face Coffee. He also starred in a beer ad in 2020, which may be the first of many. Long maligned as a bad teammate for his hard-charging style in the locker room, Butler has recently showed more of his personality, like the ad where he sings a Hall & Oates song. He also vlogs nowadays.

But despite all of his work and pursuits, he still puts his daughter first. Determined to his hard-won lessons, Butler continues to live those ideals, making him a champion on and off-the-court.