One police officer in Pittsburgh is living up to the phrase “be the change you want to see.” In 2007, Detective Jack Mook entered Steel City Boxing for a workout and sparring session as he did several times a week.
A self-proclaimed bachelor, Mook enjoyed the single life and the freedom to do whatever he wanted whenever he chose. One of the things he chose to do with his free time was volunteer at his boxing gym as a mentor to at risk kids.
“We’re non-profit and our mission is to get kids like [them] off the street, teach them respect, accountability, [and just how to] have a better life,” he said to CBS affiliate KDK Morning News.
It was here at the gym that Det. Mook met 8-year-old Josh and his 6-year-old brother Jesse. The boys were living with their mother and father at the time, but no one realized how deplorable the conditions were at their home.
Over the next five years, the boys were regular attendees at the gym and developed a strong bond with Det. Mook. But in 2012, Jack noticed the boys abruptly stopped coming to their boxing lessons.
So the police officer tracked the eldest boy down at his school to check in and see what was going on.
“I got him in the car and he didn’t look good. He just started crying in the car. The kid never cried,” he said.
Josh went on to describe the horrific conditions of their home, sharing that it had a constant rat and roach presence. Dog feces covered the floor and the home was infested with fleas. He went on to share that he and his brother hadn’t had a bed in six years, and that they had to either sleep on the floor or a couch. As a result of the unsanitary living conditions, Josh’s hair was falling out in clumps and his body was covered in splotchy red patches.
Mook filed an emergency appeal to have the boys removed from their home and placed in temporarily placed in his care. After the boys were taken out of their home, the house was condemned due to the horrible conditions inside.
After bringing the boys into his home, the proud bachelor’s heart began to soften even more towards the brothers, and he eventually began taking steps to legally adopt the pair. He happily swapped his single life for pizza nights in, structured days, homework, and a lot of love.
After several hurdles, including battling health insurance to cover two ER visits while he was still only the boys’ foster dad (a battle he lost), he finally became their legal adoptive father in September of 2014.
Since then, the big-hearted detective has gone on to add a wife and three stepchildren into his life, and he couldn’t be happier with the changes. Det. Mooks has also retired from the police force and opened his own boxing gym where he carries on his mentorship and training of young athletes. More importantly, the brothers have grown into outstanding and thriving young men.