Bob “Butterbean” Love is a former NBA player who became a standout player for the Chicago Bulls, but also struggled greatly with stuttering. Today, Love is an executive for the Bulls, but his journey back to his old team was not a cakewalk by any means.
Love was born December 8, 1942 in Bastrop, La. Love starred as a player at Southern University and was drafted by the Cincinnati Royals in 1965. After failing to make the team his first year, Love played in the smaller Eastern Basketball League and earned himself a spot on the Royals roster.
However, it was his eight seasons for the Chicago Bulls that would prove to be his most productive. The 6-foot-8 forward was a three-time NBA All-Star and two-time All-NBA Second Team selection. Despite this, Love avoided the limelight because of his speech issues. His stuttering was so bad, his teammates often had to speak for him.
Love is ranked third on the all-time scoring list for the Bulls and was the second player to have his jersey retired after former star, Jerry Sloan.
Love’s career ended in 1977 as a player for the Seattle Supersonics, which began the start of a downward post-retirement spiral.
He struggled to find work that didn’t require him to speak, and his wife at the time wasn’t supportive. He was recovering from back surgery when he returned home one night to an empty home. His wife left him and took what money they had left with a note saying she didn’t want to be married to someone who was a “cripple” and stuttered.
The only work the nearly-broke Love could find was menial jobs that didn’t require him to speak. As a busboy for a Nordstrom restaurant in Seattle, Love earned $4.45 an hour, a far cry from the six figures he earned at his heights as a player. The owner of the eatery helped Love get speech therapy classes and he overcame his stuttering.
The Chicago Bulls welcomed Love back to an office position as its Director of Community Affairs, a job he’s held since 1993. He is also a motivational speaker and released a biography about his rise to the the Bulls front office.