Bowling Perfection Tops Super Bowl Win for Bus

Why Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerome Bettis is passing on his love of bowling to students

DETROIT, Mich. — Long before he began bowling over opponents on the football field, Jerome Bettis was knocking down strikes and spares at the neighborhood bowling alley. His mom thought it was a good way to keep Jerome and his brother off the streets.

"I started bowling when I was a little guy and it was the best thing in the world for us,"said Bettis. "Every weekend we were at the bowling lanes all day. It was school work on the weekdays and bowling on the weekend. It kept us busy and out of trouble."

For The Bus, bowling was his first love in sports, so it’s easy to understand the anxiety he felt when he had to choose between bowling and football in high school.

"I became a really good bowler, among the best in the state, and I started travelling for bowling,"added Bettis. "I had to make a decision when I went to high school. I didn’t play football until I was a freshman, and I had to put down the bowling ball when I decided to play football. It turned out to be right."

In 1997, as his NFL career was taking off, Bettis rolled a perfect 300 game at a pro-am event. He calls that his single biggest accomplishment, even bigger than winning the Super Bowl.

A short two months after retiring from football, Bettis was honored with induction as the first member of the Celebrities Bowling Hall of Fame, part of the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Arlington, Texas.

Bettis says the love of bowling has always been there and it still is. In addition to working with Ford Fund on the Innovation Huddle education program, The Bus Stops Here Foundation includes a program called Take It to the Lanes that teaches kids ages 8-16 years old the rules of bowling, how to choose a ball, different deliveries and etiquette. Bowling is a sport that can be enjoyed for a lifetime with family and friends, so how’s The Bus at the bowling alley these days.

"I average about 205,"Bettis smiled. "I can still throw it down the lanes."

Learn more about The Bus Foundation in our nonprofit spotlight.