Former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, Aug. 8 in Canton, Ohio as a member of the Class of 2015. Bettis will join the other 22 Steelers who are members of the Hall of Fame. From now until his induction, Steelers.com will be bringing you features on Bettis.
Jada Bettis' eyes lit up as she walked into the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year, only to be greeted by a photo of her father, Jerome Bettis on the wall with other members of the Class of 2015.
For the nine-year old, it was an amazing moment. She might not have remembered her dad's playing career, as she was only an infant when Bettis last played, but she knows about his journey.
"I am very proud," said Jada about her dad's accomplishment. "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."
Bettis shared with his daughter not just his football journey, but his life's journey to make her understand and appreciate hard word, dedication and determination, all things the young gymnast takes with her to competitions.
"He was down here, and now he is way up here," she motioned of his meteoric rise from his days growing up in Detroit to Hall of Famer. "I couldn't imagine how hard it's been for him. For him to be rising up that quickly, that great, it's amazing how he went from here to here and now he is in the Hall of Fame which couldn't be any better. For him to be here where he is today is an awesome achievement for him to just rise up."
She isn't the only one who shares that pride, that passion for what Bettis has accomplished. His son, Jerome Jr., is just seven and the only football he has seen his father play has come courtesy of watching old highlights. But he too understands the significance of where his dad started, and where he is today.
"I am pretty proud of him," said Jerome Jr. "When he was a kid, he was an underachiever. For him to be in the Hall of Fame now, to be one of the best, it feels really good.
"It's pretty impressive. There are a lot of people who played football. He is one of the best of the best."
Sports play a big role in the Bettis' lives still, as Jerome Jr. is also an athlete. He said he has learned a lot of lessons from his father, ones that he uses every day.
"He taught me about never giving up," said Jerome Jr. "If you put your mind to it, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to. He also taught me to overcome fears. That's why I love him."
As Jada and Jerome Jr. walked through the Hall of Fame, seeing the history of the game, hearing stories of the legends who call it home, and knowing their dad is going to be a part of it, Bettis' wife Trameka couldn't help but smile.
Jerome Bettis and his family visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
"I don't think they fully understood up until now what this really means, knowing that their dad's bust will be put in this building, and the history will be here long after we are gone and for years to come," she said. "I think they are starting to get how big this is and how amazing their dad's career has been.
"We wanted to have a trip with the kids prior to the induction. To be able to have this moment, and share it with them, and not be rushed through the process so they can hold dad's hand and walk through the whole induction building and grasp the whole meaning of it has been amazing."
If anyone knows what the ups and downs have been like the last five years that Bettis was a finalist, waiting for the day he finally overcame the final hurdle to become a Hall of Famer, it's been Trameka. She has shared the disappointment of him not making it for four years, but now is relishing every special moment.
"This has been the most amazing ride we have ever been on," she said. "We are overwhelmed and just humbled with everything. We are geared up and excited for what's to come. Whatever they have in store, we are ready for the ride.
"I don't think there are words for what is to come. I think what is important is to take every moment as it comes and just soak it all in. The day of the parade, the enshrinement, the Gold Jacket, I don't think can be measured. I think what is most important is to grasp it as it comes and soak in every moment."
Soaking in every moment. You can be sure that is something John Bettis will be doing. Big brother, the one who has been there for so many of Jerome's games throughout his career. One of his biggest fans and staunchest supporters.
"This is incredible," said John. "It's more than a dream come true. Jerome has done so many great things and this is a culmination of everything. This is big. This is everything for us.
"Jerome played in the Hall of Fame game one year and the family was all here and we decided not to come in because we didn't want to taint our image of the Hall without him being here. Being here is overwhelming, knowing he is a part of it. The Bettis' are in the Hall of Fame. It's incredible.
"It couldn't be any better. It's a dream. I always say, only Jerome. Only Jerome. It's incredible."