Jerome Bettis ventured to the University of Notre Dame from humble beginnings in Detroit, Michigan. He arrived in South Bend with much fanfare and hype as an amazing football talent. He like so many of his teammates embraced the grind on the football field while simultaneously competing just as hard in the classroom. As he matriculated through college, he was presented with a difficult decision following his junior year. Jerome had the opportunity to achieve a childhood dream. He possessed the talent to play professional football player, but he would have to forgo his final year of eligibility. This meant he was also postponing a promise made to his mother Gladys and father Johnnie to become the first person in his family to earn a college degree.

Jerome Bettis

Jerome chose to enter the 1993 NFL Draft where he was selected 10th overall. Jerome went on to stardom as an NFL running back culminating with a Super Bowl Championship in his hometown and enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He married his lovely wife Trameka and they were blessed with two beautiful children. From the outside looking in Jerome was living a charmed life, but there remained one unfulfilled goal that needed to be achieved. He had made a promise to his mother and it remained unfulfilled. His father told Jerome when he dropped him off in South Bend to begin his freshman year, “Son I’m sending you off to school. I don’t have much to give you, but I have a good name.” Mr. Bettis was a man of integrity and the Bettis name meant everything to him. A fundamental value in the Bettis was family was to honor your word. Jerome returned to Notre Dame nearly thirty years later to complete his degree. He made this decision not because he needed a degree for a job or to support his family, he needed the degree to fulfill his promise. We tip our proverbial hat to our brother, ‘JB.’ He honored his mother and father by earning his degree. Most importantly through his words and actions he has continued the family tradition of passing on a good name to his daughter Jada and his son Jerome Jr.

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