Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back and soon-to-be Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis had some shocking news appearing on a local Detroit sports talk show. As was reported by James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press, Bettis admitted to both selling crack and firing guns at people while growing up in the Motor City.
Bettis further elaborated in the interview, which can be seen in full here.
“The mind-set was, ‘We’re in the hood. Mom and Dad, they’re working their butts off. There’s no money around. We need to make some money.’ So we said, ‘You know what? Let’s give it a shot.’ And it was one of those moments that you regret, but at the moment, that was the only thing that was really available to us,” Bettis said.
“Yeah. That was part of growing up in our environment, in our neighborhood. That wasn’t out of the realm of normal. When you go back, it’s nothing that I ever wanted to glorify, because I know in retrospect that it was awful. Here you are in a position to take someone’s life, and that’s never a good thing. And so as I look back on it now, I always see the wrongs that are in it and never want to bring light to it in that respect: that it was a good thing. It was the worst thing that I could’ve ever done. It was a bad decision, but it was the decision that I made and that I lived with at that moment.”
Though it is a bit unsettling to learn that Bettis, one of the most beloved players of his time, engaged in a life of crime during his youth, it’s hard not to see why he did it.
Keep in mind that this was probably before football was considered a long-term option for him, and there is the saying that desperate times call for desperate measures. We don’t have to like it, but should take solace in the fact that Bettis was able to rise up and create a better life for himself and his family.
Bettis went on to play college football at Notre Dame before being selected by the then-Los Angeles Rams with the 10th overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft. He would spend three seasons with the team before being traded to the Steelers, with whom he made four of his six Pro Bowls and won Super Bowl XL.
In 13 seasons, Bettis would run for 13,662 yards and 91 touchdowns.
That said, having gone from selling crack in Detroit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that’s a great rags-to-riches story for Bettis.
Feature Photo Credit (above) to USA TODAY Sports