Jack Mook is a 22 year veteran detective with the Pittsburgh Police Force. In his spare time, he volunteers at the Steel City Boxing Gym where he teaches underprivileged kids how to box. One day he realized two of his regular students hadn’t come for a while so he went investigating and found the two boys being neglected by their foster parents, so what he did changed his own life as well as the life of these two boys forever.
From left to right, this is Josh, Jack, and Jessee.
Josh and Jessee are brothers. They were born into a life of poverty and found comfort at the Steel City Boxing Gym in Pittsburgh. Josh once recalled, “My parents, like I tell everybody, they always loved us. But they couldn’t take care of themselves. So we were sleeping in vans, we were sleeping in campers, wasn’t the greatest place to sleep. As I walked in [to the Steel City Boxing Gym], it was just – a lot of friendship. A lot of friendship came to me.”
Jack paid a lot of attention to the kids that were at the gym, and one day he noticed that Josh and Jessee had stopped showing up. Jack said, “We became worried about it. We talked about it. We went on the lookout for them.” Mook found the boys, and learned that their parents had lost custody of them due to their struggle with drugs. They had been left in the care of their relatives, where they were no longer impoverished, but they were neglected.
Jack remembers, “I finally found Josh in December, right before Christmas. He didn’t look good. Blotches of hair missing. Some type of rash on the back of his head. Psoriasis. Flea bites. Sunken in cheeks. And Josh and I went on the road and I got him something to eat.” Josh was very quiet during this short car ride. Jack decided to talk to him. “Instead of being a coach, I was a cop on this one. ‘What’s going on here, Josh?’ You’ve got to tell me what’s up.” That was when Josh could no longer hold it in and he broke down crying, telling Jack, “There’s dog feces in the carpet. They make us clean it up with our toothbrushes.”
After Josh told Jack horrible stories about the ordeal the boys were going through, Jack told Josh, “Joshua, just hang in there. Take care of your brother. Let me see what I can do. When I came home I just felt selfish and guilty that I had a whole house there, and these kids are going through that. So right there I made the decision to get on the ball and go get them.” So right then, Jack started the process so he could fight for custody of these two boys. He had a whole house to himself, so why not bring in two boys that could use a safe environment. Luckily for Jack, the boys’ aunt & uncle had a serious run in with the law, and the whole process was expedited. Josh remembers that, “as soon as we got in the car with Jack, all the stress, all the anger, all the depression, everything, it left me that day. All of it.”
Several years have passed, but Jack has adopted the two brothers. He said, “When the judge signed the adoption papers, I understood why the Grinch got the big heart at the end of the movie. That’s what I felt like… Laughter, happiness, their faces are filled. They’re fed. They’re healthy boys.” Josh speaks highly of Jack, “He gave me focus. He got me out of where I was. He saved me. Like everybody says, everything happens for a reason and God works in mysterious ways.” Jessee, the younger of the two brothers, said, “If Jack hadn’t intervened, I would’ve grown up to be one of those guys on the street – no job, no diploma or anything, asking for change and stuff.” Josh thinks they would have died if Jack didn’t come to the rescue. Jessee and Josh are finally able to look forward to the future. Josh even wants to join the military just like Jack, so he can follow in his footsteps.
We need more stories like this in the world.