You've probably never heard of Jack Mook, a Pittsburgh man who spent 22 years as a detective. But after you hear about how he saved two children from a life of poverty and abuse -- adopting them and bringing them into his own home -- you'll likely never forget him.
"My parents, like I tell everybody, they always loved us," 15-year-old Josh told TheBlaze TV in an interview that aired Monday. "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."
Josh and his little brother, Jessee, found refuge in the Steel City Boxing Gym, where Mook has been volunteering for a decade.
"As I walked in, it was just -- a lot of friendship. A lot of friendship came to me," Josh recalled.
But one day, Josh and Jessee stopped showing up at the gym.
"We became worried about it," Mook said. "We talked about it. We went on the lookout for them."
Mook eventually found the boys, and learned that their parents -- who struggled with drug abuse -- had lost custody of them. They had been sent to live with relatives, where they went from impoverished to abused.
"I finally found Josh December of 2012, right before Christmas," Mook recalled. "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."
Mook said Josh was "very quiet," and he pulled the car over.
"Instead of being a coach, I was a cop on this one," Mook said. "I was like, 'What's going on here, Josh? You've got to tell me what's up.' ... He breaks down crying. He goes, 'There's dog feces in the carpet. They make us clean it up with our toothbrushes.'"
Josh, only twelve years old at the time, said his aunt and uncle were also physically abusive. He did all he could to protect his little brother, but often there was nothing he could do.
"One time they brought [Jessee] home, they took him upstairs and they beat him up," Josh recalled. "I didn't watch but I heard the pain. I heard the crying. And after that it just kind of broke me down. And after that, I made sure nothing like that would ever happen to him again."
Beck asked why anyone would order a child to use their toothbrush to clean up dog feces, and Mook said he believed it was part of a "street intimidation mentality" their aunt and uncle had.
"I said, 'Joshua, just hang in there. Take care of your brother. Let me see what I can do,'" Mook said. "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.'"
Mook, a bachelor, immediately started the process to get custody of the children. The fact that Josh and Jessee's aunt and uncle had a serious run-in with the law shortly thereafter expedited it.
Josh said the minute he and his brother got in the car with Mook, "all the stress, all the anger, all the depression, everything, it left me that day. All of it."
Several years later, Mook has adopted the boys and Josh remarked: "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."
"When the judge signed the adoption papers, I understood why the Grinch got the big heart at the end of the movie," Mook added with a smile. "That's what I felt like. ... Laughter, happiness, their faces are filled. They're fed. They're healthy boys."
Jessee, now 11-years-old, said if Mook hadn't intervened, he has no doubt he would've grown up to be "one of those guys on the street -- no job, no diploma or anything, asking for change and stuff." When he arrived in Mook's custody, his teeth were so rotted the dentist had to pull out five of them.
Josh thinks they would've been dead.
"They weren't raising us right," Josh said. "There were drugs in the house. ... There were just no good people. I think we would've been dead. That's what I think. And I'm just very appreciative."
Josh said he believes God has rewarded them with a family, after they persevered through the struggles.
When Beck asked how Josh even knows about God, Josh responded: "I've been to Christian camps and stuff. And I chose to learn about him. When I was younger I would try to read the Bible a little bit. Didn't understand it, but it was my choice to learn about him because I knew I had to."
Josh wants to follow in Mook's footsteps and join the military, and hopes to be able to go to West Point.
"I talked to my old platoon leader from Desert Storm and he's going to come up in a couple weeks and visit and meet Josh face-to-face," Mook said. "I don't know anybody out there that ... thinks this kid won't be able to lead someday."
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