Bob “Butterbean” Love is most well known for being the powerhouse small forward on the Chicago Bulls from 1968 to 1976. He was known on the court for his intense love for the game, but off the court Bob was the target of the media’s criticism that wrongly perceived him as rude and arrogant for not talking to reporters. What they and the rest of the world did not know at the time was that Bob suffered from an uncontrollable stuttering problem.
He went on to be named Rookie of the Year, was picked to be on the all-stars team five years in a row, and was the second Chicago Bull to have his jersey retired – good ol’ #10. He averaged 17.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game throughout his NBA career. Many would call these Bob’s greatest accomplishments, however I think Bob’s greatest accomplishment happened off the court.
When Bob left the NBA in 1977 due to a career-ending back injury he was told by doctors that he would have difficulty walking, let alone playing the game he loved. He found himself in a place of struggle as his astounding basketball skills could no longer do the “talking.” Desperate for a job he found himself at Nordstrom’s café working as a dishwasher. Bob had long dreamt of being a great public speaker since his early days in Louisiana, yet his severe stutter was a constant reminder of the obstacle in his way.
After devastatingly losing his job, Bob found himself back where he had started, however John Nordstrom had taken a liking to him. He saw the essence of Bob’s huge heart, dedicated spirit, and unrelenting perseverance. Mr. Nordstrom found Bob a speech therapist to help him overcome his stuttering problem.
Bob worked as hard at speech therapy as he did on the basketball court. He put in countless hours of practice, sweat, and tears. After many years of therapy he decided to set out on a speaking tour to spread the message of hope. He has spoken at over 1,000 high schools, colleges, and businesses about his determination to not let hardship get in the way of success.
For this reason and many more, it was my honor, on behalf of the Keep On Keeping On Foundation, to present Bob Love with the 2012 March Forth Award for exemplifying the spirit of leadership, determination, and perseverance.
Manager of Programs & Fundraising