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Bulls’ Jimmy Butler selected as NBA’s Most Improved Player


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CHICAGO (AP) — There was a time when Jimmy Butler was kicked out of his home as a teenager with no place to go. He has come a long way since then.

The Chicago Bulls guard was named the NBA’s Most Improved Player on Thursday after making his first All-Star team and averaging a career high in scoring.

“I felt like at any level I was at, whether it be junior college or Marquette, I don’t think I was supposed to be there,” Butler said. “Somehow, some way, with the people that were in my corner, I found a way to get there.”

The 25-year-old Butler received 92 of 129 first-place votes and 535 total points from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors was second (11 first-place votes, 200 points) and Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz finished third (12, 189).

“It’s a testament to his work ethic and what he’s done,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Each year, he’s gotten a lot better. I think it’s being recognized by a lot of people now. Where he is today, in comparing that to where he was four years ago, he’s made a gigantic jump.”

That the award went to Butler is hardly a surprise given the improvement he showed while helping the Bulls fight through injuries to win 50 games.

View galleryCleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives …
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) drives against Chicago Bulls guard Jimmy Butler (21) d …
“I’m very happy for him,” the Bulls’ Joakim Noah said. “Very well deserved. Somebody that’s worked extremely hard. I’m happy for Jimmy.”

In his fourth season, the 6-7 guard went from averaging 13.1 to 20 points. His shooting improved from 39.7 to 46.2 percent, his rebounding jumped from 4.9 to 5.8 and his assists increased from 2.6 to 3.3 per game.

Butler is also in line for a huge payday as a restricted free agent after he and the Bulls were unable to agree to a contract extension before the season. He said at the time he was betting on himself, and it sure looks like he hit the jackpot.

Butler, however, called it “a tie” Thursday and insisted, “We both won.” He also said he has no plans to leave Chicago, where the Bulls are tied 1-1 with Cleveland in their second-round playoff series. Game 3 is Friday night.

“I think this is a place for me,” Butler said. “I love playing with the guys we have. They continue to bring in great, high-character guys that fit the team role. I love it here.”

View galleryChicago Bulls' Jimmy Butler, bottom, scores in …
Chicago Bulls’ Jimmy Butler, bottom, scores in front of Cleveland Cavaliers’ James Jones dur …
Butler thanked his family, his brothers, his teammates, current and former coaches and team management. He mentioned how former teammate Luol Deng helped him adjust to the NBA, as well as Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin.

The award is the next step in a remarkable climb from homelessness as a teen to stardom in the NBA.

Butler got kicked out of his house by his mother when he was 13, in Tomball, Texas, and his father had been out of his life since he was a baby. At the time, Butler had no money and nowhere to go.

He would stay with friends for a few weeks and then move on to another one looking for a place to stay. He eventually settled in with the Lambert family and became a star at Tomball High. He was barely recruited, but Tyler Junior College coach Mike Marquis gave him an opportunity.

“Coach Mike Marquis was seeing something in myself that I didn’t see at that age,” Butler said.

He also mentioned the work ethic then-coach Buzz Williams instilled in him at Marquette. Butler spent three years there before getting drafted with the 30th pick by the Bulls in 2011.

“Without Buzz constantly challenging me and pushing me to be great, I don’t think I’d be standing here,” he said.

He played little as a rookie but started to show some promise in his second year. The past two seasons, he has averaged 38.7 minutes. And the big jump this year comes after a grueling offseason.

Butler worked out three times a day in Houston, from morning to night with breaks for meals and a nap. He and some friends also rented a house with no cable or Internet service, choosing to focus on basketball.

“What we see is a great will and determination that Jimmy has, an outstanding work ethic and an inner drive to succeed that he comes with each and every day,” general manager Gar Forman said. “You look back at Jimmy’s story and it really is amazing that we’re here today.”

Cooper, Kenneth

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Kenneth Cooper, 47, Blandinsville, passed away at 9:20 a.m. Friday, April 3, 2015, at McDonough District Hospital in Macomb.
He was born Jan. 17, 1968, in Galesburg, to Danny and Mary Josephine Nichols Cooper. He married Jennifer Wherley on May 17, 2003, in Ipava. She survives.
Also surviving are his mother and stepfather, Mary Jo (Paul) Hasley of Galesburg; father and stepmother, Danny (Faye) Cooper of Galesburg; children, Cody (Jacque Hall) Cooper of Wataga, Kursti Cooper of Galesburg, Colton Cooper of Knoxville, Jacob Cooper of Dahinda, Lillian Cooper of Blandinsville, and Evan Cooper of Blandinsville; five grandchildren, Keerah Cooper, Kacen Cooper, Karver Cooper, Justin Ervin and Gavin Ervin; brothers and sisters, Tangee (Pat) Frazier of Quincy, Crystal (Joel) Emerich of Maricopa, Arizona, Jollene Cooper of Galesburg, and Kelli (Jeff McFadden) Cooper of Galesburg; and several nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by one sister, Marlene Cooper; and his grandparents.
He lived in Colchester and Blandinsville. He was a Navy veteran, serving from 1985 to 1988. He was a direct support staff for Mosaic. He loved his job and worked there for many years. He also enjoyed fishing.
Funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, April 9, 2015, at Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home in Blandinsville, with Pastor Wally Holt officiating. Visitation will be 5:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home. Burial will be in Glade City Cemetery in Blandinsville.
Memorials may be made to the Kenneth Cooper Memorial Fund.
You may leave condolences and sign the guest book online at clugston-tibbittsfh.com.

Item # 747 – Tickets for Four for Comedy Sportz

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Good for any Friday or Saturday night show at 7pm. Good for all ages. ComedySportz features two teams of improv comedy act-letes competing for points and laughs, with a referee keeping things moving and calling fouls. Every show features brand new games, different players, and different audiences supplying all new suggestions. Good through Saturday, May 31st.

Value: $56.00

220 19th Street
Rock Island, IL 61201

Item # 536 – Gift Certificate from Stray Cat Art

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Good towards any items by Stray Cat Art (Number 1 Items) including original metal art, personalized letters, words and custom home furnishings made from recycled, reclaimed and repurposed materials, custom tables, lighting, sculptures and vintage items plus much more! Expires August 28, 2015.

67 S Seminary St
Galesburg, IL 61401


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Item # 525 – Husqvarna Viking Huskylock Serger Overlock Machine from Galesburg Sewing Center

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The HuskyLock s15 machine is built for 2-3-4-thread results on all kinds of fabric from stretch to sheers. The extra presser foot lift makes it easy to overlock thick layers of fabrics and quilts and features 15 different stitch options.

Value: $599.00

243 E Main St
Galesburg, IL 61401


Item # 520 – Two Adult Mississippi Sightseeing Cruise Passes from Celebration River Cruises

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Board the Celebration Belle in Moline, IL for a 90 minute narrated sightseeing cruise of the Quad City Area (Davenport & Bettendorf, Iowa and Moline & Rock Island, Illinois). Narration includes history of the area and the Mighty Mississippi River and you’ll view the largest roller dam in the world at Lock and Dam 15 as well as the Rock Island Arsenal Island. Sightseeing cruises board May through September. For a list of departure dates, please visit Celebration River Cruises website at www.celebrationbelle.com. Not redeemable for cash or any other cruise. Expires August 29, 2015.

Value: $30.00

2501 River Drive
Moline, IL 61265

Item # 519 – Captain’s Dinner and Dance Cruise for Two from Celebration River Cruises

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Come aboard the Celebration Belle for a two and a half hour Captain’ Dinner Cruise, departing from Moline, IL. Enjoy a 3 entree buffet meal including their famous prime rib. All meals freshly prepared onboard. After dinner enjoy the sounds of the Celebration Belle Band and dance the night away or go up to one of the observation decks to enjoy the beautiful scenery and sunset. There is a cash bar onboard. Expires October 31, 2015.

Value: $97.90

2501 River Drive
Moline, IL 61265

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