A Blast Into The Past: Warrick Dunn
Let’s jump into our time machines and go back into history to take a look at another one of Tampa’s greats, Mr. Warrick Dunn. Dunn was born in New Orleans, LA on January 5th, 1975. Growing up, he lost his mother Mrs. Betty Smothers, who was a police officer in Baton Rouge. As a single mother, she worked tirelessly to support her family and She would work many hours. Sometimes this would mean she would have to work her late night into the early morning hours. She did this without complaint in order to further her goals and to achieve her dream of owning her own home. One night on January 7, 1993, she was shot and killed in a robbery attempt, while escorting a businesswoman to the bank to make a night deposit. Things went south as she was ambushed by armed thieves, and shot and killed. The tragic event left a young Warrick to raise his younger siblings.
Warrick Dunn pursued football and ultimately found himself at Florida State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in information studies, in 1997. While at Florida State, he played football and played football well. In four seasons with the Florida State Seminoles, he played in 45 games, recording 3,959 rushing yards on 575 attempts and 47 touchdowns. His career average was an outstanding 6.9 yards per attempt. He also caught 132 passes for 1,314-yards and 12 TDs. During his career at FSU, he helped win a National Championship in 1993, earned a Second-team All-American in 1996, and won three First-team All-ACC awards during the years 1994–1996. An amazing college career.
Dunn was the oldest of six siblings, his hand in helping to raise them while juggling a college football career and earning himself a degree, was likely a main deciding factor for Tony Dungy drafting him 12th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft. Tony Dungy always instilled his ideologies into the players while coaching and Dunn was already living them. One of Dungy’s ideology was simple, and something Dunn was doing his entire life:
“Whatever it takes. No excuses, no explanations. Do what we do.”
Continuing his NFL career and life with Dungy’s ideology ringing in his ear, Dunn had overwhelming success in both. Dungy helped continually mold Dunn and other players throughout their careers in Tampa. Dungy was more than a coach, he was a father figure to a lot of young players. He passed his words of wisdom time and time again such as this one that seemed to reach Warrick Dunn at his core.
“If you are going to live in this community, you want to be a part of this community, and give back.”
These words from Tony Dungy sparked something within the very soul of Warrick Dunn.
Dunn founded the Warrick Dunn Charities and partnered with Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for less fortunate families, and he built homes for many single mothers. Warrick Dunn was helping his mother achieve her dream through the help he gave others. His work continues to this day.
Texans QB DeShaun Watson knows first hand of Dunn’s charitable heart as his family was one of those that Dunn helped. His charity had a major impact on young DeShaun Watson, who also helps needy families within his community and around the United States.
Recently speaking to Peter King of Sports Illustrated, Dunn mentioned that the values he placed in his life are the most important, moreover than football.
“As you get older, life changes and you start to view things and value life a lot differently,” he said, “I think I just value human beings. It’s a big issue with affordable housing in this country. People have a lot of needs, and I just want to be a voice for them and an outlet, that if you work hard, and you are committed, we aren’t going to hand you anything, you have to do your part and work hard, that we are going to come support you. I tell people I am a lucky guy, but I am definitely blessed to be in the position I am in to help people.’’
Warrick Dunn’s accomplishments during his NFL career are nothing short of spectacular: NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year 1997, 3× Pro Bowler 1997, 2000, and 2005, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year 2004. But his off the field achievements far surpass his NFL career.
Warrick Dunn’s from tragedy to success story is an inspiring one, which will carry on in Football and beyond forever.