B.C. Lions’ RB James Butler goes viral after breaking sledgehammer for Christmas Day ice bath

Photo courtesy: Paul Yates/BC Lions

B.C. Lions’ running back James Butler is gaining online attention for his impressive dedication to a new part of his morning routine.

The Chicago, Illinois native recently began posting videos to his TikTok account of morning ice baths, challenging himself to take one two-minute plunge every day. His commitment level was tested on Christmas Day — just his second day doing the baths — when the frigid winter conditions rocking much of North America rendered his outdoor tub nearly impenetrable.

Butler attempted to use a sledgehammer to break through the ice but succeeded only in breaking the head off the tool. He persisted using the hammer’s wooden shaft and eventually broke up the top layer, fishing out several enormous pieces of ice several inches thick before commencing his soak.

The video has since been viewed more than 217,000 times as of this posting, with many marvelling at Butler’s toughness and resilience to the cold. Even Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ defensive end Willie Jefferson weighed in on the video via his Twitter account.

Butler had a breakout second season for the Lions in 2022, carrying the ball 210 times for 1,060 yards and seven touchdowns in 17 games. He also added 53 receptions for 384 yards and four majors through the air.

The 27-year-old previously spent time with the Oakland Raiders, Saskatchewan Roughriders and Houston Roughnecks. Prior to his pro career, he rushed for 3,316 yards and 27 touchdowns over three productive seasons at the University of Nevada, before transferring to Iowa as a senior.

Butler has said he continues to take the daily ice baths in order to improve his energy, better control his breathing, and keep seasonal depression at bay. He is scheduled to hit free agency in February.