PITTSBURGH - Jerome Bettis’ NFL career came to an end in true fairy-tale fashion when he won a Super Bowl in his hometown of Detroit.
For weeks leading up to Super Bowl XL, Bettis’ personal homecoming stories were both heartwarming and positive.
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Now, as The Bus prepares to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’s sharing some stories that are a bit grittier about his childhood in the Motor City.
Bettis told Channel 11 Sports Director Alby Oxenreiter that he sold crack in his teens and that he regrets it, mostly because it disappointed his parents.
“That was a long time ago. Those are memories I don’t even care to go back and remember,” Bettis said.
In a recent interview with syndicated sports talk host Graham Bensinger, No. 36 said selling crack with his brother was a “financial necessity.”
"The mindset 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 in an appearance on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger.”
Bettis was then asked if he had 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,” Bettis 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.”
Jerome took to Twitter on Friday to go into further detail about his childhood.
According to Bettis, the reason he told the story in his book several years ago was to let people know that life is about growth, and that he’s where he is today because he changed his ways.
“It’s the growth. We all make mistakes. It’s the mistakes that you make. That’s what molds you into the person you become,” Bettis said. “That was something I wanted to share because it’s part of who I am and part of the person I became. It’s who I wanted to get away from being."
He said his experiences as a youth are what led him to starting The Bus Stops Here Foundation.
“That’s why I started the Jerome Bettis Bus Stops Here foundation -- to work with underprivileged and at-risk kids because I was one of those kids,” Bettis said. “That’s the whole premise behind everything I do now, because of the bad mistakes I made as a young kid."
As NBC Sports Pro Football Talk wrote, “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.”