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Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers RB Jerome Bettis opens up about his past

Jerome Bettis opened up to Graham Bensinger about his childhood and rise to excellence.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Jerome Bettis wasn't always a sportscaster and athlete. Growing up as a kid in inner-city Detroit, he was a crack dealer. Bettis shared with Graham Bensinger on In Depth with Graham Bensinger, "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 you regret, but at the moment, that was the only thing really available to us." He also revealed that he shot at someone, saying, "That was part of growing up in our environment. In our neighborhood."

Decades after his rough upbringing, Bettis became a football superstar and is now preparing for his induction into the Hall of Fame. He talked about the moment he shared the news with his mom: "I told her, 'Mom, your son is a Hall of Famer,' and that was it. I was crying, she was crying. It was just one of those moments."

His mom was an integral part of his football career and always watched out for his safety. Bettis recalled, "She used to park outside of the field when I was in high school and she used to watch practices from the car because she was always wanting to make sure that I was gonna be okay... She's been right with me every step of the way."

You'd think Bettis' biggest sports moment would involve his time with the Black & Gold. Sorry, Pittsburgh. He is prouder of bowling a perfect 300 than any other football achievement. "That was I think my biggest sports accomplishment. Even winning the Super Bowl does not compare to a 300 game, because you have to be perfect. You have to be literally perfect in order to have a 300 game. It's rare... It was really significant for me."

Bettis also shared that he considered retirement after the 2004-2005 AFC Championship game, but when talk of the Super Bowl came up, Bettis knew he had to be on the field somehow. "I'm gonna be on the be a streaker," he told Graham Bensinger. "Because I'm gonna be on that field if they play in the Super Bowl in Detroit."

Thankfully we experienced Jerome Bettis the running back in Detroit that year, not Jerome Bettis the exhibitionist.