Technically, Warrick Dunn is always off the field, since his last season was in 2008. But when he was on the field, he lit it up. As a running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (and later for the Atlanta Falcons), he was named Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 – the year in which he was also named to his first of three Pro Bowls. He is one of only a handful of players to rush for over 10,000 yards and scored nearly 50 rushing touchdowns.
All of this came in the light of substantial personal tragedy. When Dunn was 18, his mother was shot and killed while working her second job as a security guard in a convenience store. Dunn, the oldest of 6, instantly became the man of the house, and raised his siblings with the help of his grandmother, while also attending college and starting a football career.
Warrick’s story takes the “no excuses” mentality to a whole new level.
In addition to his success as a player and his personal perseverance, Dunn has also left his mark on the communities that mean the most to him. His foundation, Warrick Dunn Charities, runs two programs that meet needs close to his heart.
Homes for the Holidays – founded in 1997, Dunn’s first year in the NFL – provides first-time single parent homeowners with down-payment assistance and sets them up with everything they’ll need to start living in the house they are purchasing – from linens to garden tools to food in a new refrigerator. The program also sets them up for long-term success by providing continued support services.
Betty’s Hope, named after Dunn’s mother, is a program that helps kids and teens deal with grief in a positive manner. The program runs out of Baton Rouge, LA, where transportation can be an issue for families without access to vehicles. As an answer to that problem, Betty’s Hope has a mobile counterpart, in which grief support services are brought directly to neighborhoods and schools in need.
Give your Tuesday a jump start and check out this interview about Warrick’s inspiring story from a few years back: