Dunn's foundation works to improve the lives of others.
Dunn's foundation works to improve the lives of others.

Running Back & Home Builder: The Story of Warrick Dunn

Nathan Baugh
Articles

Warrick Dunn ran for 11,000 yards in his NFL career. Even more impressive, he’s now built hundreds of homes for families in need.

Warrick Dunn grew up the oldest of 6 siblings and was raised by his mom, Betty Smothers. Betty worked two jobs to take care of her family — as a police officer and as a night-shift security guard. In 1993, Betty was killed during a store robbery. Warrick was 18.

Dunn is seen with his mother Betty Smothers.
Dunn is seen with his mother Betty Smothers.

Warrick took over full-time parenting of his siblings. He used the life insurance payout to buy them a home. At the same time, he held scholarship offers to basically every school in the country to play football. He chose Florida State to “fulfill his mother’s dream.”

There, he established himself as one of the best running backs in the country.

  • 3x All-ACC
  • Most rushing yards in FSU history
  • 5th in the Heisman race

In the offseason, Dunn drove home often to help his grandma take care of his siblings.

Dunn took care of his siblings and drove home during the offseason.
Dunn took care of his siblings and drove home during the offseason.

Dunn went 12th overall in the 1997 NFL Draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tampa proved a perfect landing spot — keeping Warrick near his siblings and working for head coach Tony Dungy. Dunn ran for almost 1,000 yards as a rookie.

Dunn had a stellar 12-year NFL career.

  • Offensive Rookie of the Year
  • 3x Pro Bowler
  • 15,000+ total yards

He starred for both the Bucs and the Falcons, but made his biggest move off the field.

Dunn played for the Falcons during his NFL tenure.
Dunn played for the Falcons during his NFL tenure.

As a 22-year-old, Dunn founded “Homes for the Holidays.” Dungy encouraged the venture and Dunn dedicated the effort to his mother. The non-profit’s purpose is to provide homeownership for single-parent families. In months, Dunn helped 3 families finance and furnish homes.

The impact of HFTH inspired Dunn to expand. He started:

  • Count on Your Future
  • Sculpt
  • Hearts for Community Service Scholarship

Together with HFTH, these initiatives makeup Warrick Dunn Charities.

Today, WDC provides:

  • Home furnishing
  • Down payment assistance
  • Nutrition & wellness education
  • Scholarships
  • Financial literacy

It’s an incredible organization dedicated to improving the quality of lives for families academically, socially, and economically.

Dunn's foundation works to improve the lives of others.
Dunn's foundation works to improve the lives of others.

Warrick Dunn raised his siblings, graduated college, starred in the NFL while starting a non-profit, and now runs that organization full-time. He’s provided homes to 195 single-parent families. 92% of those families live in the homes today.

An overview of the assistance WDC has provided.
An overview of the assistance WDC has provided.

This story struck me as perfect for Thanksgiving. It’d be dope if we ran up the donations to @WDCharities. I’ve got us started with $100. Consider donating here:

Donate - Warrick Dunn Charities