Father of Jerome Bettis dead

John and Jerome Bettis.

As the Pittsburgh Steelers strung together win after consectutive win to close out the 2005 regular season, qualifying them for the AFC's final wildcard slot, Johnnie Bettis was there. Throughout the improbable run that followed ...

... John and his wife Gladys -- parents to future Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis -- became indelible symbols of their son's last gasp quest for a championship. When Jerome fumbled with the Steelers clinging to a 3-point lead versus the Colts in Indianapolis, Johnnie never left.

"[Gladys] went to the bathroom," John Bettis said afterward. "She left entirely."

And she stayed there, praying, as the Colts drove into scoring position.

"I couldn't even look out there on the field, I was stunned, totally stunned," John Bettis said. "I couldn't believe it was going to end that way."

Certainly, Jerome feels the same today.

John Bettis died earlier today, the Bettis family confirmed, of an apparent heart attack while driving home from the gym. He was 61.

Police said Bettis was found slumped over the wheel of his car near his home in West Bloomfield, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. Bettis received CPR from a motorist who'd stopped. A nurse and physician were also at the scene.

Bettis was taken to Huron Valley Sinai Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:58 p.m.

John Bettis retired last year after a 31-year career as chief electrical inspector for the city of Detroit. He attended nearly every Steelers game Jerome played.

He is survived by his wife, Gladys, and three children, John, Kimberly, and Jerome.

On behalf of its readers, staff, and Steelers fans everywhere, SteelCityInsider.com offers the Bettis family its deepest condolences.

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