Jerome Bettis: I sold crack, shot at people growing up in Detroit

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When the Steelers played the Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, perhaps you heard that Pittsburgh running back Jerome Bettis was from Detroit.

But the story he tells now about his growing up are a bit grittier than the heartwarming homecoming stories he was telling then.

In an interview with syndicated sports talk host Graham Bensinger, Bettis admitted selling crack and shooting at people when he was growing up in the Motor City.

Bettis was asked about selling crack with his brother, and admitted it was considered a financial necessity.

“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.'” he said, via James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press. “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.”

That career path obviously comes with a certain set of dangers, and the legendary running back was asked if he ever shot at anyone.

“Yeah. That was part of growing up in our environment, in our neighborhood. That wasn’t out of the realm of normal,” he said. “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.”

Bettis has clearly overcome the mistakes of his youth, as he heads into the Hall of Fame after a brilliant career. But as impressive as anything he did running the ball was the fact he could escape that setting, overcome the challenges and become the kind of man he is today.

119 responses to “Jerome Bettis: I sold crack, shot at people growing up in Detroit

  1. It’s Detroit. I would be more surprised if he’d said he hadn’t sold crack or shot at people.

  2. I mean, who didn’t? Selling crack is the great American pastime. Shooting your neighbor is grand sport.

  3. A lot of athletes would lie, lie and lie again right to your face about the tough truths in life (Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Lance Aarmstrong, etc.), but the Bus at least was open and honest, and took ownership of it.

    Though no one can respect the criminal past, I can certainly respect his taking full accountability for it, when so many would try to keep the truth buried.

  4. 87hollywoodhorn says:
    Jul 24, 2015 9:31 AM
    were all just products of our environments
    ————–

    What a dumb thing to say. It’s always someone else’s fault, never their own. No wonder those people are where they are, no responsibility.

  5. johnqlunchbox
    Jul 24, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    Thanks for oversharing, Jerome. Too much information.
    __________________________________

    He was asked a question and he answered it honestly but I see you want your athletes to lie to you. I thought what he said was very interesting it was probably just something you couldn’t relate to though.

    revren10
    Jul 24, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT
    Will he also admit that Doctor HGH hooked him up and helped his career
    __________________________________

    Make millions of dollars playing professional football and take care of family or struggle in life and sell crack. Hard choice there huh…

  6. I tell you, there are a lot of Hernandezs out there. Aaron was just clumsy and got caught.
    I may be among a few who are disturbed by what I read. Shot at people? What does that mean? Did he or did he not kill someone.
    An unnecessary admission really.

  7. Props to Jerome Bettis for not white-washing his history. That’s real life stuff right there. The only reason that feels like over-sharing to some of us, is because many of us middle class types are sheltered when it comes to knowing what life is truly like in the hood. We need to own up to what’s going on with our neighbors (sometimes just a block or two away). And if we do, chances are we’ll take more interest in stopping the soft bigotry that frames so many of our government programs.

  8. Shot at someone? Or shot someone? Or killed someone? Did Bettis just potentially admit to murder? Are we just going to gloss over this?

  9. If he was an ex-Patriot all of you would be killing (no pun) him right now. Calling for the Patriots to lose draft picks or get Kraft hung in the town square. But he’s an ex-Steeler, a cuddly guy nicknamed The Bus so we will praise him for getting out of that situation. Just think, if he was a Raven he’d get a statue.

  10. Why not just say “I did some very bad things growing up that I regret” and leave it at that? If he doesn’t want to glorify it, then why give the detail?

  11. @mc321984 – Here come he Patriot fans asking for an investigation!
    Obsess much?

  12. 87hollywoodhorn says:
    Jul 24, 2015 9:31 AM
    were all just products of our environments
    ————–
    I can’t stand when people say that. It was used as the justification for dog fighting when that was in the forefront. If your environment & culture is producing something as despicable as dog fighting, THEN CHANGE IT.

  13. .
    A self righteous, sanctimonious, Jerome Bettis on # Deflategate : ” I’m so disappointed in Tom Brady”

    Judge not, lest thee be judged, Jerome
    .

  14. Mistakes? That’s ignorance.
    Wake up people, that’s how people are living, its time to stop ignoring it. Kids have no other choice in that enviornment. I hope a young kid on the edge will be inspired by Jerome.

  15. By noon today he’ll claim that he was taken out of context…he meant “shooting marbles AND, eating Cracker Jack”. For the prize inside.

  16. Idiots thinking he just admitted to murder, good lord.

    How can he be investigated? Some 40+ year old man is going to come out of the wood works and say, “Yea, it was me he was shooting at. I swear”

  17. Where in this article, other than the title, does Jerome ever say he smoked crack? He was young and in hard times. Times that most of you that are criticizing him on here have never had the ill fortune I behold in your lives. Take your judgment elsewhere. The past is the past.

  18. > floreskins says:
    > Jul 24, 2015 10:05 AM
    > > 87hollywoodhorn says:
    > > Jul 24, 2015 9:31 AM
    > > were all just products of our environments
    > I can’t stand when people say that. It was used as the
    > justification for dog fighting when that was in the forefront.
    > If your environment & culture is producing something as
    > despicable as dog fighting, THEN CHANGE IT.

    Sorry someone hurt your feelings. It’s easy for a white dude raised in a stable environment to say that–I don’t know about you, but I was. The thing is, we ARE products of our environment. Even harmless cultural things change–if you were raised in Japan you’d be very different than you would be if you were raised in Spain, which would be very different than if you were raised in Detroit. If you live in an environment where you’re surrounded by illegal activity, you’re probably going to do a lot of the same stuff. However much you find it distasteful to you, that’s how it works.

    And Bettis DID change. Which is hard to do, and we should respect him for it, even if we don’t respect the things he did before he escaped Detroit.

    Regarding “If it were us, we’d be in jail”… no, we wouldn’t. Statute of limitations on attempted murder in the state of Michigan is 10 years, so unless it turns out that Bettis did actually kill someone, he’s probably okay. ‘course, that’s a pretty big “if”.

  19. Reminds me of “Love’s Gonna Get ya” by BDP. “….with one a half pair of pants, you ain’t cool”

  20. I think he’s “embellishing” his childhood a little. Show me the police reports. Selling narcotics and attempted murder isn’t something even Detroit cops take lightly.

  21. Pats fan here. This guy is a class act. Same thing with McGinest, grew up in hell and turned out to be a good person. So don’t tell me you can’t take the ghetto out of the person. Everyone can choose to be better but most don’t. No excuses

  22. paulieorkid says:
    Jul 24, 2015 9:37 AM

    Though no one can respect the criminal past, I can certainly respect his taking full accountability for it, when so many would try to keep the truth buried.
    —————————
    acknowledgement: admitting something happened
    accountability: accepting the responsibility and consequences for one’s actions

    In no way is Bettis “taking full accountability” for his past. He’s only admitting it happened.

  23. ReligionIsForIdiots says:
    Jul 24, 2015 9:37 AM
    He shot people? Shouldn’t he be investigated for attempted murder?

    ——————–

    Nah, it’s not like he told someone to deflate a football or anything like that. C’mon, man, get your priorities right.

  24. patsfanforlife says:
    Jul 24, 2015 11:13 AM

    ReligionIsForIdiots says:
    Jul 24, 2015 9:37 AM
    He shot people? Shouldn’t he be investigated for attempted murder?

    ——————–

    Nah, it’s not like he told someone to deflate a football or anything like that. C’mon, man, get your priorities right.

    —————————————

    Pats fans are the reason most people hate the Pats. Not the Pats themselves. These comments are the perfect example of why.

  25. erminalmancer says:
    Jul 24, 2015 10:47 AM
    > floreskins says:
    > Jul 24, 2015 10:05 AM
    > > 87hollywoodhorn says:
    > > Jul 24, 2015 9:31 AM
    > > were all just products of our environments
    > I can’t stand when people say that. It was used as the
    > justification for dog fighting when that was in the forefront.
    > If your environment & culture is producing something as
    > despicable as dog fighting, THEN CHANGE IT.

    Sorry someone hurt your feelings. It’s easy for a white dude raised in a stable environment to say that–I don’t know about you, but I was. The thing is, we ARE products of our environment. Even harmless cultural things change–if you were raised in Japan you’d be very different than you would be if you were raised in Spain, which would be very different than if you were raised in Detroit. If you live in an environment where you’re surrounded by illegal activity, you’re probably going to do a lot of the same stuff. However much you find it distasteful to you, that’s how it works.

    Actually you are wrong. In his article he said mom and dad worked their butts off. If thats the case he just proved he wanted what they couldnt afford so he sold drugs to get it. He just proved its not the enviroment its people wanting what they cant afford because they feel entitled.

  26. Maybe Charles Haley’s message would be better said to Detroit or any other “hood”: Act like the white guys (except those who shoot up movie theaters or churches).

  27. erminalmancer says:
    Jul 24, 2015 10:47 AM
    > floreskins says:
    > Jul 24, 2015 10:05 AM
    > > 87hollywoodhorn says:
    > > Jul 24, 2015 9:31 AM
    > > were all just products of our environments
    > I can’t stand when people say that. It was used as the
    > justification for dog fighting when that was in the forefront.
    > If your environment & culture is producing something as
    > despicable as dog fighting, THEN CHANGE IT.

    Sorry someone hurt your feelings. It’s easy for a white dude raised in a stable environment to say that–I don’t know about you, but I was. The thing is, we ARE products of our environment. Even harmless cultural things change–if you were raised in Japan you’d be very different than you would be if you were raised in Spain, which would be very different than if you were raised in Detroit. If you live in an environment where you’re surrounded by illegal activity, you’re probably going to do a lot of the same stuff. However much you find it distasteful to you, that’s how it works.

    Actually you are wrong. Bettis just proved its feeling entitled. Mom and dad worked hard. Thats what the article said. So that means they had food and water, power and a roof over their head. They wanted something they didnt have and sold drugs to get it.

  28. stillers213 says:
    Jul 24, 2015 10:09 AM
    How insecure are Pats fans where they have to make every article about them? Give it a rest already. It’s becoming really pathetic.

    ______________________

    Huh? mc321984 fired first (no pun intended). The Haters are the insecure/obsessed ones.

  29. dsigrey says:Jul 24, 2015 9:49 AM

    If he was an ex-Patriot all of you would be killing (no pun) him right now. Calling for the Patriots to lose draft picks or get Kraft hung in the town square. But he’s an ex-Steeler, a cuddly guy nicknamed The Bus so we will praise him for getting out of that situation. Just think, if he was a Raven he’d get a statue.

    At some point, when you get thrown in the fire constantly, you need to ask yourself,

    “What am I doing wrong that I end up here all the time?”

    Pats fans could stand to learn something from this. Not all the teams that have been successful the last 20 years have a bullseye on their back but yet the Pats do. Gotta be the environment, right?

  30. Its not the enviroment they live in. Mom and dad both worked. What did they need that they had to sell drugs to get if mom and dad had already paid the bills to live.

  31. Some people just don’t understand how it is growing up in a hood environment and they never will. Do you folks really think that it’s a choice to be a Blood or Crip ? Answer is a big Fat No. You are born into it. I’m from a small city an hour south of Boston and let me just say that you are indeed a product of your environment and when you get old enough to understand how life works, you hopefully make the correct decisions to better yourself and for your family as well. I’ve seen a lot of messed up things in my 35 years, but I’ve also seen good things as well. Surround yourself with good people and you can definitely have a productive life.

  32. His comments and some on here saying they are okay with it, sums up the state of our country. I grew up poor with no money, but I didn’t resort to selling crack and shooting people. I did know people that sold drugs and shot people, but I chose not to. Damn that personal responsibility and accountability.

    Bettis, if you are admitting to shooting someone, you should go to jail and not the HOF.

  33. I think it’s good he admits to his past. People go through very difficult pressuring environments growing up. Sometimes that’s your own decisions, sometimes, other people are making decisions for you, peer-pressure, etc.
    Either way, he’s owned up to it, sees himself moved on from that and does not glorify that life at all, which is a mature, honest attitude to have and inspiring for kids in bad neighborhoods. He should do even more to reach out and help.

  34. Hey, we all make mistakes. But selling crack and shootings? Too bad this criminal wasn’t caught and sent to prison. Maybe his scholarship could of went to a better human. Hoodlum.

  35. Wow. Amazing how polarizing his comments have become.

    I think I read somewhere the biggest impact on a childs future is strongly related to the income of their parents.

    For me, the ones that don’t want to hear these details are missing the point of how difficult it is for many people to get ahead today.

    I’m thankful for the story to remind me that nothing should be taken for granted.

    I’ve not needed to make similar life changing decisions, which I am grateful for, but I am hopeful that as a society we can all take a step toward lifting people (certainly children) up and out of those situations when possible.

    If we turn our back on these issues, one day they will be on our back or the backs of our families.

  36. coltsblue says:
    Jul 24, 2015 11:05 AM
    I think he’s “embellishing” his childhood a little. Show me the police reports. Selling narcotics and attempted murder isn’t something even Detroit cops take lightly.

    ______________

    This isn’t Pokemon, you aren’t gonna catch them all. You can tell by his tone, he isn’t reliving these stories to glorify that lifestyle but rather to show that SOMETIMES, people change enough to make you say “I don’t believe it” because the public perception is that that kind of behavior is below them.

  37. He should be fired from every position he holds and forced to apologize to a victims of gun violence survivor group. Oh wait, I thought he was a white dude who said a “slur” when he was younger. Nevermind

  38. granadafan says:
    Jul 24, 2015 11:30 AM
    Maybe Charles Haley’s message would be better said to Detroit or any other “hood”: Act like the white guys (except those who shoot up movie theaters or churches).

    You still believe those were real?? Lol
    CRISIS ACTORS

  39. Wow, what the hell’s with the judgment and animosity toward Jerome Bettis? By his own admission, he acknowledges that these were extremely poor decisions made when he was a kid — he doesn’t justify anything or gloss over it. He’s since turned his life around completely and made the best of what he could given the circumstances. Just because you grew up in some cushy suburb where the hardest decision each day was what to wear doesn’t mean that everyone else gets it so easy.

  40. Well, he’s a hoodlum and admits it. Big on him? Maybe someone was about to rat him out hence his “confessions “. It’s the same story being told everywhere. Where with these hard working parents when he was packing heat and selling dime bags. I wish his hall of fame bust was a mug shot from prison where he belonged. Hoodlum. All you sympathizers, maybe if your family member would of caught one of his rounds, or was a strung out crack head and Jerry’s best customer you’d feel a little different.

  41. sonnygauld says:
    Jul 24, 2015 12:12 PM

    Wow. Amazing how polarizing his comments have become.

    I think I read somewhere the biggest impact on a childs future is strongly related to the income of their parents.

    For me, the ones that don’t want to hear these details are missing the point of how difficult it is for many people to get ahead today.

    I’m thankful for the story to remind me that nothing should be taken for granted.

    I’ve not needed to make similar life changing decisions, which I am grateful for, but I am hopeful that as a society we can all take a step toward lifting people (certainly children) up and out of those situations when possible.

    If we turn our back on these issues, one day they will be on our back or the backs of our families.
    ———————————————————————————–
    A. The polarization of ideas in the Western world is in large part to progressivism and their enthusiasm for shouting down (denying free speech) to those who disagree with them.
    B. The “I think I read somewhere’ isn’t a source but I’ll bite. Certainly to a large degree it can be. But what you say discounts the other examples that contradict the statement. From Dr. Ben Carson who grew up in Detroit and came from a broken home, to Michael Skakel, nephew of RFK, who was convicted in absentia of killing Martha Moxley in ’75. Point? outliers exist, be one of them in a good way. (those are similar aged people, one white from the Kennedy clan, one black from lower middle class, Carson’s father was a minister from Georgia who moved to Detroit.)
    C. Your point about the difficulties of today is valid. 50 years of policies discouraging nuclear families through welfare (as long as a man isn’t in the home a check arrives monthly) have wreaked havoc especially in the African American community. Before the 50s fully 77% of AA children lived in a home with both parents, now it’s closer to 25%. Reconcile that.

  42. What an unbelievably stupid comment. If he just stopped it I sold drugs I could understand but admitting to shooting? This is a cold case episode just waiting to happen.

  43. What goes around comes around Steelers’ fans. Karma just bit you good. By the way, Ray Lewis sends his regards. LOL.

  44. The only thing more prevalent in the hood than gunplay and drug deals is people lying about doing it.

  45. The negative comments are coming from a bunch of people who come from affluent families and have zero perspective on life. That’s fine, I think less of your accomplishments since Daddy probably paid your way through life and handed your jobs. People like you can’t fail in life because they ride their parents coattails. You’re nobody’s lol.

  46. archer4cyoung says:
    Jul 24, 2015 10:31 AM

    Im a steeler fan and i dont respect this guy one bit

    dont ever call yourself a Steeler fan again you clown

  47. Ban him from TV.

    Where are the anti-drug and anti-violence fanatics?

    Oh ok I get it, Bettis works for NBC, and he’s black, so selling crack and shooting people is ok as long as you fit the accepted narrative.

    If this were Ted Nugent, a white, pro-gun, pro-family, pro-personal accountibility, limited govt conservative, the media would be apoplectic and would demand that all Nugent records, CDs, and MP3s be pulled from every store in the world so that they could destroy every aspect of his life and his familys life.

    But Bettis is the exact opposite so the rules are different for him.

  48. The silver spooners know I’m dead right lol. I bet you listen to rap too, probably have no idea what the lyrics are about either. Self-made people can respect Jerome, the others are products of their sheltered environment.

  49. Jerry Rice – “I used stickum”
    Jerome Bettis – “I sold crack and shot people”

    Two NFL Hall of Famers.

    The term “integrity of the league” is an oxymoron.

  50. Wait, forgot Warren Sapp – “I buy prostitutes”

    Think of the integrity!!!!!

  51. What a bunch of morons some of you people are. No second chance for anyone, right. Many of you have a reading comprehension problem. JB said he shot at people, not he shot people, there is a diffence.

    And, using the blatantly racist Ted Nuggent as a counter comparison is beyond the pale!

  52. Notice how so many of the people who are willing to accept JB’s candid admission of intentionally shooting at people based on the overall body of his life’s work, are still so willing to caustically keep pounding Ray Rice, whose overall body of work is so positive and after a one-time incident has done nothing other than show his contrition and commitment to continue seeking positive life goals.

    Who says fandom doesn’t color perspective?

    FWIW, I hold no beef with Bettis. He sounds sincere and committed to the right path. Just like Rice.

  53. Maybe he didn’t kill anyone with bullets, but I’m sure the drugs did a few people in.

  54. Half the people that make fun of him on this website would be scared to drive through the hood. Not that I would approve of him saying this publicly but it is the truth.

  55. The man gave a candid interview about his rough childhood growing up in the ghetto of Detroit. So many ridiculous comments made by trolls and haters. Grow up children.

  56. mikeo76 says:
    Jul 24, 2015 3:29 PM

    Many of you have a reading comprehension problem. JB said he shot at people, not he shot people, there is a diffence.

    ———-

    Sure. One is attempted murder and the other is murder. I would say both are pretty bad.

  57. Financial necessity- Shooting at people?!!!
    Props?!!!! Yeah, it took real courage to come clean now! SMH
    Guys like Stabler aren’t even in the HOF, but reformed crack dealers are?!
    No integrity at all….Mercury Morris is reading this and going WTF?!!!

  58. C’mon..I don’t believe any of this !

    Especially the part where Bettis says he is from Detroit !

  59. What goes around comes around Steelers’ fans. Karma just bit you good. By the way, Ray Lewis sends his regards. LOL.

    12 3
    Report comment

    That’s funny Forrest Gump Tebow!!!! Lewis killed someone but thank god the Bus is a poor shot! As a liar of major proportion who respects no one I would fear the karma you generate on a daily basis Forrest.

  60. Where are all the self righteous wahoos who attack Ray Lewis everyday? Crickets.

  61. The Pittsburgh Rusty Nails have no standards of personal conduct so it isn’t surprising that Bettis would fit right in and the Steelers wouldn’t follow up.

    There is good news for Bettis – selling and using drugs is now a quality that can make him President one day.

  62. TebowedOutOfThePostSeasonAndNeverToReturn says:
    Jul 24, 2015 6:52 PM
    Where are all the self righteous wahoos who attack Ray Lewis everyday? Crickets.

    ************************************************************************

    Ray Lewis was doing his crap when he was in his mid-20s and was a millionaire at the time. Bettis is talking about stuff that happened when he was a teenager running around on the streets in Detroit. How are those comparable? And speaking of “wahoos,” you’re the one that goes out of his way to post on every Steeler-related article that comes through PFT.

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