UFC fighter Anthony Pettis honored the memory of his late father in an Instagram post today, on his 17th death anniversary.
Anthony Pettis' father, Eugene Pettis Jr., passed away when the fighter was only 16, leaving behind his mother and two brothers.
Anthony Pettis pays tribute to father
On November 12, 2003, Eugene Pettis Jr. was stabbed to death by a robber who broke into his friend's house. Anthony Pettis remembers this day as the one when he had to become "a Man" from a teenage boy.
In the Instagram post honoring his father, Anthony Pettis wrote:
"17 years ago my life was changed forever! My father was murdered across the street from our house. I still Remember the day like it was yesterday 🙏🏽 17 years ago I was forced to become a Man. Thank you Pops for everything you taught me while we were together. I love and miss you!"
Quite obviously, this tragedy that hit the Pettis family unannounced made the former UFC lightweight champion change his priorities. MMA took a backseat for a while.
In an interview with MMA Junkie, Pettis had this to say about his immediate reaction after the incident.
"The next two years were like a blur. I spent two years pretty much going through the motions. I stopped doing martial arts and boxing. I’m thinking, 'Why am I trying to be a good guy when this bad stuff happens?"
But he was back at it soon, stepping into Duke Roufus' mixed martial arts academy - an association that would continue for the years to come. Anthony Pettis said that he did it for his mother, because he did not want to see her heartbroken anymore.
"She lost the love of her life just like we lost our dad,” Pettis said. “I had nobody to hold me accountable. I could have done whatever I wanted to do at that time. But the thing that kept me on track was not making my mom sad. I didn’t want to see her cry anymore, the way she was crying for a year or two after my dad died." (H/t UFC)
Ironically, November 12 is also the birthday of Eugene Pettis Jr., which makes the whole tragedy even sadder.
Anthony Pettis in UFC
After suffering a broken hand and losing at UFC 229 to Tony Ferguson via corner stoppage, Anthony Pettis returned to welterweight in January, 2019 for the first time since 2008 to face Stephen Thompson.
Anthony Pettis won that fight via knockout, but then went on to lose to Nate Diaz in August.
In 2020, Pettis has competed twice - once against Carlos Diego Ferreira at UFC 246 in a losing effort, and then again in a bout against Donald Cerrone at UFC 249 that saw him win via unanimous decision.Published 12 Nov 2020, 19:00 IST