Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductee Jerome Bettis was honored in his hometown of Detroit on Tuesday afternoon as part of the Hall’s Hometown Hall of Famer™ program presented by Ford Motor Company.
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Bettis grew up in Detroit and attended Mackenzie High School, but that school has closed. Tuesday’s community tribute took place at Renaissance High School where the former Pittsburgh Steelers great was serenaded by the school choir, swarmed on stage by the football team, and joined by 30 family members including his mother Gladys.
Also in attendance for the event was Detroit native and longtime NFL guard Reggie McKenzie who anchored the famed Buffalo Bills’ “Electric Company” offensive line of the 1970s. It was at a camp run by McKenzie in Detroit that a young underprivileged Bettis first was inspired to play the game and chase his dreams.
Bettis was also surprised by the attendance of all of his football coaches from Mackenzie High School at Tuesday’s ceremony.
Hometown Hall of Famer™ is a national program that honors the hometown roots of the greatest heroes of the game with special ceremonies and plaque dedication events in local communities. Renaissance High School became only the 91st high school in the country to earn this distinction as an official high school of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bettis said, “This is my first event as a Gold Jacket and it meant so much to me to give my beloved hometown this plaque to house forever and give the students the message that they too could be a Hall of Famer in any given profession as long as match hope with hard work dedication and lean on the support of this great community."