In Sports Heaven

February 19, 2012   ·   3 Comments

by Cody Norman

Photo Credit: Stephen Kline

There is a large cardboard cutout of No. 22 framed by racks of athletic socks. There’s a poster-sized picture of a Sports Illustrated cover featuring the same familiar face that walks through those glass doors, the bell jingling behind him as he enters, and begins another day to build a new business aimed towards making an impact on every person that follows him through the door.

Lamar Butler Jr., the face of Mason’s 2006 Cinderella story, is there to help.

“Every time someone walks through the door I say, ‘How may I help you?’ But I really do mean it,” Lamar said. “I really do want to know how I can help you. I believe that God gives us all dreams, visions and talents. It is up to you whether or not you choose to follow them. Some people are happy to sit back and be mediocre. I’ve never had that mentality.”

After graduating with a degree in business, Lamar took his talents overseas to play professional basketball. But business management was always in the forefront. While he and his brother Joey always dreamt of starting their own business together, they never could decide what kind of business they wanted to launch.

“It started 30 years ago,” Lamar said. “I was born into an entrepreneurship-type mindset. We were always taught to think for ourselves and be our own men.”

Despite her steady job working for the government, his mother suffered a sub­stantial blow to her retirement fund a few years ago. Lamar and his brother took the misfortune and turned it into an oppor­tunity. They began seriously discussing the possibility of beginning their own business in order to help their mother retire early in spite of her intention to retire in 2016.

“She’s been [working hard] for too long,” Lamar said. “It’s time for her to relax.”

When Lamar and Joey finally settled on the idea of creating a sports apparel indus­try — a spin-off of their father’s creation, Varsity Sports — they started thinking of a name for their new business.

“We prayed about it,” Lamar said. “That next morning, he texted me and said, ‘In my sleep, I think I got a name. How about Sports Heaven USA?’ And it was crazy be­cause that’s the same name I had dreamt about — I wrote it down and everything.”

Due in large part to the relationships Lamar built while playing professional basketball in Turkey, Sports Heaven USA does a lot of its business deals with teams overseas. The two brothers attempt to go against the grain, making products more affordable for consumers.

“I make the products more affordable for the average person,” Lamar said. “I’m not going to do like everybody else does and make the price more expensive. I’m going to make everything more affordable — I’ll take less profit per item — but I’ll have more volume.”

The Butler family has always been ex­tremely business-savvy and involved them­selves heavily in entrepreneurship, trying their luck in a number of different business ventures until finally settling into a sports apparel store called Varsity Sports in Prince George’s County.

“We were always a couple who wanted to create options in our financial situation,” Mrs. Butler said. “We’ve always exposed our kids to entrepreneurship and encouraged them to create options.”

Among those varying options, Lamar and his family still put their family first and take pride in giving their lives to God, using their time to help as many people as they can.

“Our family is all about helping each other

out,” Lamar said. “That’s what is missing in our society. People aren’t willing to help anybody, but my mission is to help as many people as I can.”

After his wife Jasmine planned their wed­ding in July, Lamar began trying to convince her to start her own business venture as an event planner. Jasmine has been teaching in Prince George’s County for six years, but has decided to yield Lamar’s advice and give up teaching in pursuit of her own dream.

“This whole entrepreneur spirit is like wild­fire,” Jasmine said. “It just spreads so quickly.”

As Lamar, Joey and Jasmine all begin laying the foundation for their businesses, both Mr. and Mrs. Butler are able to sit back and admire the impact that they have made on their family.

“It’s beyond proud,” Mr. Butler said. “ You always want your kids to be better than you. I wanted to be able to close my eyes one day and know that our kids are better than us. And, so far, so good.”

Despite his business mentality, Lamar continues to build his business by being genuine. He has developed a strong pas­sion for his business endeavors, but remains even more passionate about the people he influences along the way.

Similar to the long nights that Lamar spent in the gym, eventually willing his team into the Final Four six years ago, Lamar now sits with his eyes glued to his computer screen, pounding away at his keyboard as he con­tinues to build his dream.

“I’m addicted to it,” Lamar said. “It’s like basketball; it’s addicting. There’s nothing like building your own dreams.”

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Readers Comments (3)

  1. Kikapoo

    I’m looking for a nice daitgil camera under or around $200 for the purpose of blogging (as in wordpress, blogger, etc). I’m trying to get a blog which will be based around the daily photos I take despite the fact that I’m not really a photographer but only doing it for fun. Any cool features like video would also be great but mainly I’m just looking for something I can take quality pictures, and that will hopefully hide my total amateur abilities. . . Thanks guys!.

    Reply »
    • Luke

      Kara, these pics are awesome!!! I love them soo raelly know how to capture the moment..What a beautiful family & Sarah looks as young as she did when I played baseball with her 🙂

      Reply »

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