Former Ohio State guard Jamar Butler eyeing comeback chapter to career

Adam Jardy
Buckeye Xtra
Ohio State's Jamar Butler, left, drives to the basket past Iowa's Kurt Looby during the first half of a basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008, in Iowa City, Iowa.  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Jamar Butler is ready to give basketball another shot.

Roughly eight years removed from a second significant injury sidelined him, the former Ohio State point guard is in Port Charlotte, Florida, working out three times a day and hoping to put together a comeback chapter at age 35. After years of working as a personal trainer, Butler has signed with a new sports agency, Suave Sports & Entertainment, and is hoping for an opportunity to chase his goals again.

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“Of course, the dream is the NBA since a kid, but you’ve got to be a realist here,” he told The Dispatch. “I’m 35, just getting back into it and I mean, G-League or somewhere overseas in Europe, that’s where I’m looking to get my foot in the door.”

It’s been a long journey for the Lima, Ohio, native, who played in a national championship and won an NIT title while playing for Ohio State from 2005-08. After averaging 15.0 points and dishing out 219 assists as a senior, Butler spent the next several years playing professionally in other countries before suffering a pair of injuries that forced him to the sideline.

First, Butler said he was playing in Germany when a hard foul on a layup tore the labrum and partially tore the rotator cuff in his shoulder, ending his season. He rehabilitated that injury before, while playing for the G-League’s Fort Wayne Mad Ants in 2012-13, Butler said he broke his foot when he made a quick stop while chasing down a loose ball.

“For the foot, it took me over a year to get back to the point where I could put all the pressure on it and the movements,” he said. “It was very tender. By that time, I had got into training kids, traveling around Ohio and doing camps. Before I knew it, it had been six, seven years and I hadn’t played.”

It was admittedly a dark period of his life. Butler said he felt somewhat lost without the game, knowing that he couldn’t play at the level he could before while also dealing with a now-ended relationship he didn’t want to discuss. He would talk with his father, Melton, about his future, and the family kicked around the idea of opening his own gym or becoming a full-time trainer.

About four years ago, his family moved to Florida while Jamar remained in Ohio. About a year ago, he joined them.

“We started talking about basketball, the memories, the good days at Ohio State, the good days in Europe and decided to give it another go,” he said. “Basketball was my life since the age of 6. It’s all I knew. The injuries happened and in the snap of a finger it was taken away from me. It was a rough time. I was down. I was definitely down and out, and it feels good to be back again.”

He’s working with an agency started by a friend from his days back in the dorms at Ohio State, Ricco Washburn. Butler’s days start with a 7 a.m. lift, continue with an 11 a.m. on-court workout and then extra shooting around 7 or 8 p.m. each day.

The hope is that one day, eventually, a new opportunity will present itself and Butler’s career will add a new chapter. As of now, he’s not had conversations with teams at any level. If it happens, Butler said it’ll be a credit to the journey.

“It’s definitely made me the man I am right here, right now today,” he said. “I wouldn’t change anything, going through all the ups, the downs, the game being taken away from me. I believe everything happens for a reason. God took the game away from me for a reason, but He’s given it back and it’s all turned out to be a blessing.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy