For Jerome Bettis, it's always been family first. So it came as no surprise when he went to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year to learn the details of Enshrinement Weekend that he took his family with him.
Bettis brought his wife Trameka, daughter Jada, son Jerome Jr. and his brother John, giving the family the opportunity to fully appreciate and understand what to expect when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio.
"I heard one of the kids say 'Daddy, I am so proud of you,'" said Tammy Owens, the HOF director of Gold Jackets. "I don't think he understood what Hall of Famer meant until he came into the building and saw his picture up for the first time. I think the kids get it and that is wonderful."
You could definitely see the pride and excitement in the eyes of the entire family as they made their way through the Hall, seeing where Bettis' HOF bust is going to be displayed, and hearing all of the details of Enshrinement Weekend.
"We do this for a lot of people and we think all of our Hall of Famers are great, but I am impressed with what a great family they are," said HOF President David Baker. "This is a guy who is not only a tremendous football talent, but he is intelligent, humble, and gracious. The first thing he talks about is other people.
"I think he has a great concept from his experience as a Steeler is how great the team is. The best team you are ever going to play on is your family. He has a beautiful family and that was neat to see."
As the family walked through seeing the displays, learning about those currently in the Hall of Fame, and hearing about the Steelers tradition in Canton, the excitement for Enshrinement Weekend grew by the minute.
"It was really nice having the whole family here," said Joe Horrigan, the Hall of Fame's Executive Vice President* *& Chief Communications Officer. "Here at the Hall of Fame we feel like there is something for every generation, every fan. For someone who has played the game, someone who is in the Hall of Fame, to walk through with his son is special. You could feel that energy not just between his son, but his daughter as well. That is pretty special."
The trip also gave Bettis' kids inspiration, whether it's to play football, gymnastics, or to just excel in whatever they do in life it gave them something to strive for.
"We said we were going to save a place for Jerome Jr.," said Baker. "His hands went up and he was all excited. That is what we want for every child. The purpose in honoring these heroes is not only to honor their achievement in the past, but to shine a beacon of light in the future. To see a kid like Jerome and Jada get excited, so that these some qualities whether it's in football, playing the violin, academics, or becoming a father or mother themselves, that is what this is all about.
"We want this to be a platform for which they can spring forward and create their own excellence in anything."