This Pittsburgh police detective volunteers his time at a local boxing gym mentoring youths in the community. Then one day, he met two brothers who changed his life forever.
Pittsburgh detective Jack Mook volunteers at the Steel City Boxing gym, a nonprofit dedicated to helping underprivileged youth in the community learn amateur boxing. It was here that he met two young brothers, Josh and Jessee Lyle, and became their mentor.
“Most of the kids who come in this gym are street kids,” Jack told CBS News. “Many of them have been born into poverty.”
Jack first met Josh, the older of the two brothers, when he was about 9 years old and spent time coaching him and learning about the boy’s life.
“He was so skinny; you could see his rib cage,” said Jack, a police veteran.
According to PoliceOne.com, Jack told himself that as long as the boys showed up for their workout sessions, he wouldn’t get involved in their affairs.
“I’ve seen poor kids on the street my whole life, and on the job,” Jack told PoliceOne. “I just thought, ‘it’s none of my business as long as he’s coming to the gym and he’s got energy.’”
That didn’t turn out to be the case. When the boys failed to show up at the gym one day, Jack sought to find out why. When he finally found Josh, Jack was shocked by his appearance.
“He looked horrible,” Jack told TODAY. “His hair was really stringy, blotches were missing. He had bags under his eyes. He looked like a 40-year-old man who just lost his job.”
Jack asked Josh point-blank what had happened, and Josh, no longer able to hold back the tears, told Jack everything. The boys were living with foster parents who neglected and abused them. They had no beds and were forced to sleep on the dirty floor.
The final straw came when the boys’ guardian got into a car accident fleeing from police. That’s when Jack decided to take action.
“I said ‘enough is enough. I want those kids,’” Jack said. He was able to obtain an emergency order to become their foster parent.
Jack, who was a long-time bachelor, happily adjusted his life for the kids. And for the boys, their lives changed for the better. Jack enrolled Josh and his little brother Jessee into North Side Catholic School. The environment at home is good with nutritious meals and a stable lifestyle now fully provided.
“The fridge is full of peppers and fruits; we don’t have chips,” Josh shared with PoliceOne. “The house is a lot cleaner. He’s a germ freak.”
Then, Jack took it one step further—in September 2014, he adopted the two brothers.
“It means everything,” Jack told TODAY after the adoption was finalized in court. “It’s a commitment for the rest of their life,” he further shared, “and it’s a good one.”
How do the boys feel about their new life as Mooks?
“I feel safe,” said Jessee, who was 11 years old at the time.
As for Josh, he said, “He’s still coach, but we know he’s dad, too. Most of all, he’s a savior. He’s my role model.”
This family’s story doesn’t end here, however. In 2015, Jack married Mary, a single mom with three of her own children.
“I thought being single was fun because you don’t have any responsibilities,” Jack told CBS Pittsburgh. “But when you’re single, you don’t realize what you’re missing. I’m glad I let her break through that barrier and take me away from that life.”
It sounds like a happy ending for everyone.