It took five years but, finally, Jerome Bettis is making into the Hall.
Half a decade after he was eligible, the man they called “The Bus,” who has become synonymous with Pittsburgh Steelers football and off-field determination, will earn the one honor he’s been waiting for; a Hall of Fame enshrinement.
The sixth leading rusher in NFL history, with eight 1,000-yard seasons, Bettis has been waiting for this moment since he, officially, walked away from the game as a Super Bowl champion. But while the Detroit native is thrilled at the prospect of athletic immortality, he knows that he would not be experiencing it if it were not for his family and their constant support throughout his career. Here’s what you need to know about the Bettis family:
1. Bettis Married Long-Time Girlfriend Trameka Boykin in July 2006 After Years of Dating
After years together, Bettis and his long-time girlfriend Trameka Boykin finally made it official in 2006 when the pair were married in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The family now lives in Atlanta, Georgia although they also have a home in Pittsburgh, a place Bettis can never truly leave behind.
When Bettis retired from football, he made a promise to Boykin that while he would not be idle, he would find time for his family. He told the Post-Gazette:
I made a deal with my wife, I don’t golf, I don’t do any other activities outside of family time. That’s when me, my kids and my wife get an opportunity to do something on the weekends. I reserve all the weekends for family time.
2. The Couple Have Two Children Together
Bettis and Boykin are parents to two children, son Jerome Jr. and daughter Jada, both of whom seem incredibly impressed with their father’s latest achievement. Although neither child can fully recall Betts’ rushing exploits on the football field – Jada was just an infant when her father retired after the Steelers’ Super Bowl victory – they have both been vocal about their pride surrounding his impending Hall of Fame induction.
Jada told the Steelers’ website earlier this week:
I couldn’t be any prouder. He worked so hard and finally he is in the Hall of Fame. All of his hard work paid off.The day he made it, they called and I was asking did he make it. They told me to calm down. They said he made it. I started to cry, my eyes got teary. I was so proud of him. I couldn’t be any prouder. I am so excited. I can’t wait. I couldn’t be any happier for him.
Although Bettis may be retired, sports still plays a major role in the family’s house. Jerome Jr. is an athlete and hopes to follow in his father’s, undeniably successful, footsteps.
3. Bettis is the Youngest of Three Children & Grew up in Detroit
Before he was a Pro Bowl’er or a Notre Dame standout or even a football player, Bettis was a statistic waiting to happen. The youngest of three children he grew up on Detroit’s west side, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the country and even sold crack cocaine with his brother to help his family make ends meet.
He discussed the challenges of growing up during a recent appearance on “In Depth with Graham Bensinger,” a syndicated sports show:
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 added that he had fired a gun as a kid as well, shooting at people in his neighborhood when deals went sour.
4. His Brother, John, Will Present Bettis at His HOF Induction
Bettis, whose father passed away shortly after watching the Steelers win the Super Bowl in his son’s final game, is exceptionally close with his older brother John. It’s for that reason that John, named for their father, will present his brother will his Hall of Fame induction during Saturday evening’s event.
John said that Jerome’s request to have him on stage during the induction reduced him to tears, calling the moment “an incredible honor.”
It’s also of particular importance for John who actually grew up as a Steelers fan and even eventually moved to Pittsburgh to support his brother’s career on the gridiron. He still lives in the city.
5. Bettis’ Mother, Gladys, Was Declared Cancer-Free in June After Being Diagnosed Last Year
Although he ultimately opted to have his brother on-stage during his Hall of Fame induction, Bettis said that he also considered his mother, Gladys, for a long time. Of course, it made sense for the former Steelers standout to consider Gladys who, along with her husband, traveled to every single one of Bettis’ games, both at Notre Dame and with Pittsburgh.
That kind of dedication and devotion has produced some serious memories for the family but also some serious emotion heading into the Hall of Fame ceremony. Gladys told The Detroit News:
I asked John, ‘Are you going to be able to do this without tears?’ and he said, ‘No, Mom, I won’t. There will be tears, so get ready. It’s a contest, but I know I’m going to lose.
The family did receive a scare last year when Gladys was diagnosed with cancer. However, she recently received a clean bill of health and was declared 100-percent cancer-free this June.