Former Bearcat football star to be recognized by Yellow Jackets Saturday

Published 6:46 pm Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Former Bainbridge High School Bearcats first team All- Region 1-AAAA safety James Butler, Jr., who went on to be an All-ACC performer while starting at free safety for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in 2003 and 2004, will be inducted into the Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame Friday in Atlanta.

Saturday, Butler will be recognized during the Yellow Jackets home game with the Duke Blue Devils at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Butler, who was Yellow Jackets team captain in 2004, was also an All-ACC academic performer. He is the son of James Butler, Sr. and Nadine Butler, formerly of Climax. He earned a degree in building construction from Georgia Tech and now lives in Roswell where he owns a group of restaurants with his wife, Jasmine, who is from Philadelphia, and their two young sons James Butler III and Jackson Butler.

A member of the 2008 New York Giants Super Bowl championship team that defeated the previously undefeated New England Patriots 17-14 in Super Bowl XLII in Glendale Arizona, Butler, who was the Super Bowl’s leading tackler with nine, was honored by his home town of Climax following the victory with a special day in his honor.

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Highlight of James Butler Day in Climax came when Decatur County Sheriff Wiley Griffin and Climax Mayor Liz Sheddy-Phillips unveiled two signs that were placed at the   two city limits that read Home of James O. Butler, Jr., New York Giants Football 2008 Super Bowl Champion.

Butler, who played under former Bearcats head football coach Bob Christmas, was also an outstanding performer in basketball and track. He won the state triple jump championship his senior season.

Christmas has recently had a very successful stint as head coach at North Hall High School in Gainesville, Georgia, for the past 13 years and has now returned to Jefferson Forest High School in Forest, Virginia, as head coach where he won two state championships before coming to Bainbridge in 1997. Lady Cats head basketball coach Kelvin Cochran, who coached Butler on Christmas’ Bearcats football staff and coach Jeff Page’s Bearcats basketball staff will be attending Butler’s Georgia Tech Sports Hall of Fame induction, both talked about what an outstanding athlete and quality person Butler is.

“Good things happen to good people, and James is one of the best athletes and best people I have ever been around,” Christmas said. “He was an outstanding athlete and is a high quality young man.”

Cochran added how he appreciated the work Butler put into supporting Bainbridge youth.

“James was always willing to give back to Bainbridge High School and the youngsters of Decatur County,” Cochran said. “He would come back and give clinics for local youngsters. He is just an outstanding young man in every sense of the word.”

Butler was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, which goes annually to the top college defensive back in the country, in 2003 and 2004.