Pittsburgh Steelers' running back Jerome "The Bus" Bettis began his career in the National Football League (NFL) in 1993 as a first-round draft pick for the Los Angles Rams. After years of dazzling fans and opponents on the field and reaching league rushing milestones, many might be surprised to find out he has tackled asthma control with equal success all of his life.
Jerome was diagnosed with asthma at age 14 after passing out and being rushed to the hospital during his high school football practice in Detroit. Rather than discontinuing his play, his mother encouraged him to keep playing and follow his doctor's orders to keep symptoms under control. He has since gone on to become one of the most talented and respected players in the NFL.
Despite having been symptom-free for years, Jerome suffered a major asthma attack in 1997 during a nationally televised game. Jerome has faced his asthma head-on, and worked with his doctors to map out a game plan to help him control his asthma on and off the field.
"Even the hardest hitting players in the National Football League cannot take my breath away like asthma. I have felt the effects of uncontrolled asthma firsthand, and patients should know they don't have to let asthma stop them. That's why educating Americans about asthma control is so important to me."
On the field, Jerome's early stellar play with the Rams resulted in winning the 1993 NFL "Rookie of the Year" award and MVP honors for the Los Angles Rams. He has also earned multiple trips to the NFL Pro-Bowl. In 1996, in what has been called the "Trade of the Decade," Jerome was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Shortly after becoming a Steeler, Jerome earned MVP honors for the Steelers, and was named "All-Pro" by College & Pro Football Weekly and USA Today. He also became a member of the All (John) Madden Team, and took a third trip to the Pro-Bowl. Since becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler, Jerome has played in five Pro-Bowls, including this year's February 2005 match-up. Jerome is the fifth all-time leading rusher, and in 2004 advanced to the AFC championship game, where the Steelers came up short against the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.
Jerome has been successful off the field as well. He started "The Bus Stops Here" Foundation to help improve the overall quality of life for troubled and underprivileged children. By surrounding children with role models, opportunity, and resources, he wants to let children know that anything is possible with hard work and determination. In 1997, Jerome received the "Pittsburgh Dapper Dan Man of the Year Award" for his work on social issues in the community. Jerome continues his campaign for community involvement with continued support of various programs and endless work by his Foundation. He was acknowledged by the league for his work and named "2002 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year."