Bellino was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, attended the town's public schools, and was a three-sport star at Winchester High School. In baseball he batted well over .400 and was courted by major league teams. The basketball team on which he starred won the state championship his sophomore and junior years. They moved up to the Class A (largest schools) tournament his senior year, where the team's 55-game winning streak came to an end at the hands of much larger B.M.C. Durfee High School of Fall River. He was a dominant halfback on Winchester's outstanding football team, although his senior season was shortened by the 1955 polio epidemic.
During his 1956-57 year at Columbian Academy in Washington D.C., Bellino starred in both football and basketball. On November 25, Bellino scored three touchdowns in Columbian's upset win over the Navy Plebes, 34-33. In the fall of 1957, Bellino entered the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland along with his former high-school teammate, Frank Dattilo. During his freshman year, the Plebes matched up against the Penn State freshmen and their star player Lew Luce. Penn State won the game 23-13 but Bellino took a lateral from his Columbian teammate Harry Dietz, and scored on an 85-yard kickoff return.
He was an outstanding baseball player at Navy, but his legendary exploits occurred on the football field. In his senior year, he rushed for 834 yards, caught 15 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns, threw two touchdown passes, averaged 47.1 yards as a punter, and returned kicks and punts. He won the 1960 Heisman Trophy by a wide margin, garnering the most votes in each of the five national voting regions. In Bellino's final college football game, Navy's loss to the University of Missouri in the 1961 Orange Bowl, he scored his team's final touchdown with a spectacular diving catch in the end zone.
Following graduation, Ensign Bellino began his four years of active Navy service, until he was discharged to reserve duty.
Joe is the only former Heisman Trophy Running Back who has played for Patriots. He caught a 15-yard pass from former Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte in the Patriots 38-14 rout of the Houston Oilers on 12-11-66. Joe caught a deflected pass on his back that allowed the Patriots to continue a drive that resulted in a TD in their 14-3 win over the Bills in "The Game" at Fenway Park on 12-04-66.
Joe had the Patriots longest kickoff return in 1966 and caught a 25-yard TD pass in the Patriots 20-10 win over the Buffalo Bills @ War Memorial Stadium on 10-08-66.
Since the close of his playing career, he has been a successful businessman in the Boston area, where he has also been active in charitable organizations. He and his wife, Ann Tansey, have two children, Therese and John, and currently live in Bedford, Massachusetts.
Bellino Park in Winchester was dedicated in his honor in November 2004.