Jimmy Butler’s hardscrabble upbringing is a difficult reminder of his past, and that’s exactly where he wants it kept.

The 26-year-old blew up last season, becoming an All-Star winning the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, and was lavished with a max deal by the Chicago Bulls.

Butler now pals around with celebrity pals like Mark Wahlberg and Taylor Swift, and is living his dream. And he doesn’t want what he escaped clouding his happy life now.

Per Chicago Mag:

“We knew we had a [talent],” says John Paxson, the Bulls’ vice president of basketball operations and, of course, a key cog in the Jordan-era championship runs. “But to ever think that he would become the player that he advanced to last year? I’m going to tell you straight out that there’s not a person in this building that saw that coming.” […] And though Paxson now has to sign the paychecks, he is equally delighted. “For years, as we’ve been trying to build the team, it’s always been, ‘You need a complement to Derrick Rose,’ ” he says. “Well, we’ve got one.”

 

Even Butler was stunned. “Hell, it came out of nowhere for me, too,” he says. “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I knew I was going to average 20 points a game in the best league in the world. I had no idea. Tell you the truth, I’d never averaged 20 points a game since high school. I was just playing ball, trying to help the team. But when I look at it now, I’m like, Wow.”

 

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.”