Called "an ambassador for the NFL" by Pittsburgh Steeler quarterback and teammate Ben Roethlisberger, running back Jerome "The Bus" Abram Bettis (1972-) was born on this day in Detroit, Michigan.
Part of a close-knit family, as a child he suffered from asthma. From the time he started playing sports at age seven and throughout his professional career, his parents attended all of his games.
His mom Gladys said, "I couldn't bear to think that something might happen to my child and I'm not there. I'd sit in the stands with my inhaler in hand waiting to pounce if I had to."
The Notre Dame standout with the rumbling running style was drafted 10th overall by the L.A. Rams in 1993 and was the NFL Rookie of the Year. Joining Pittsburgh in 1996, Ellis rushed for over 1,000 yards in eight of his 13 seasons and in February 2006 ranked fifth in the league's all-time leading rushers.
In 1996, he established The Bus Stops Here, a foundation to help inner city kids. "When you have an opportunity to help other people, you want to do it. We live in a world where we can help others," said Bettis who became a mentor and motivator to his replacement Willie Parker.
"Fame is fleeting, and you can't get caught up in it," he told USA Today in the midst of the Super Bowl accolades of 2006. "Signing autographs, taking pictures, and being nice to people is a small price to pay for the upside that comes with this."
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