Jack Mook, who has been on the Pittsburgh police force for over 22 years, is not someone you would want to mess with; the no-nonsense detective is known as being something of a tough guy. A lifelong bachelor, Mook spends much of his free time training underprivileged youngsters at the Steel City Boxing gym, a nonprofit organization that helps kids receive mentoring. One of those kids was 9-year-old Joshua.
Joshua began working out at the gym regularly and Mook became Joshua’s trainer. The two bonded. Joshua and his little brother, Jessee, had never known an easy life. Growing up in extreme poverty, they had been transferred to foster care with relatives after their parents, who struggled with drug abuse, had lost custody of them.
Then Joshua stopped showing up at the gym. Mook's detective instincts told him something was very wrong. He tracked Joshua down and was disturbed by what he saw. Joshua was flea-bitten and malnourished, and looked very much neglected. When Mook asked Joshua what was wrong, Joshua began to cry as he told him of the abuse that he and his brother had to live under. "He said, 'Coach, we have to sleep on the floor and there’s nothing but dog feces on the floor,' " Mook recalled. "Hang in there," Mook told him. "Protect your little brother, and let me work on some things."
Mook decided to take the boys in himself - first as a foster parent, and then for good when he legally adopted the boys several years later. "I never expected to be a father," said Mook. "But God had a plan and blessed me. And what did I gain out of this? Two best friends."
As for the boys, they have never been happier. "I'm very happy," Jessee said. "His house is clean, he has great rules, and I know he's going to make me a better man in life."