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.