An extraordinary story of the ultimate act of altruism, Warrick Dunn put his family on his back and ran like no other. Raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Dunn was the oldest of six children born to Betty Smothers. Serving as a police escort, Ms. Smothers was ambushed and murdered in 1993. Dunn was suddenly thrust into the head of household role for his five younger siblings. He would use his mother’s life insurance policy to purchase a family home and enlist his grandmother to help guide him as he managed to be a parent and brother. The heavily recruited senior from Catholic high school would get the opportunity to begin his football journey at Florida State University. At FSU, Dunn was a three-time, first-team, All-ACC player, becoming the first back in the school’s history to record three 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He would finish his career as the Seminoles’ leader in rushing yards (3,959) and graduate with a degree in Information Studies. In the 1997 National Football League (NFL) Draft, Dunn would be selected by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the first round as the 12th overall pick.
Continuing to defy the odds, Dunn would be named NFL Rookie of the Year by Football News, Pro Football Weekly, Sports Illustrated, and designated Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, Football, and College/Pro Football Newsweekly. He would spend five seasons with the Buccaneers, six seasons with the Falcons, and then a final year again with the Buccs. His dynamic performance garnered 14th all-time in all-purpose yards, with 15,306 and 19th in rushing yards with 10,967 before retiring. Even more impressive than his on-field accomplishments, Dunn is heavily involved in philanthropy. During his rookie season in Tampa Bay, in honor of his mother, Dunn founded the Homes for the Holidays program to help single parents obtain homeownership. Partnering with local organizations, the program helps families with down-payment assistance and home furnishings. Dunn has expanded his charitable blessings establishing Count on Your Future, Sculpt, and the Hearts for Community Service Scholarship.