How NFL Great Warrick Dunn’s Past Inspired Him To Give Away Homes To Single Moms

Three-time All-Pro running back Warrick Dunn is making an impact in the community long after his time spent playing professional football in Tampa Bay and Atlanta. This year will mark the 150th home giveaway for Dunn’s, Homes for the Holidays, charitable organization.

In 1993, while in his senior year of high school and deciding among scholarship offers from Division I schools, Dunn, at age 18, was left to raise his five siblings.

Dunn’s mother, Betty Smothers, a police officer, was shot and killed while helping a woman to an ATM machine while off duty. During a time of such happiness and excitement about what the future could hold, Dunn’s life was turned upside down.

It would have been understandable for Dunn to become engulfed in anger and let the circumstances derail his future. Dunn, instead, went on to become an All-American running back at Florida State University and a first-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Dunn helped raise his siblings after his mother’s death. (Andy Lyons/Getty)

Dunn grew up in a single-parent household, and his mother’s dream was to one day own a home. Dunn, remembering his mother’s dream, wanted to allow other single parents in need of financial guidance to experience first-time home ownership. During Dunn’s NFL rookie season in 1997, with the help of the Buccaneer organization, he started a charity, Homes for the Holidays, in honor of his mother.

Homes for the Holidays has contributed to communities in 14 different locations throughout the U.S. to date. Participating families must demonstrate a commitment to achieving financial independence and stability to be considered for assistance. Selected participants will receive full home furnishings, food and down-payment assistance for their new home. Ninety-two percent of families receiving assistance from Homes for the Holidays remain in their home.

Feeding off of the success from Homes for the Holidays, in 2002, Warrick Dunn Charities was created. Warrick Dunn Charities has awarded more than $3 million in cash, food and other donations to support sustainable futures through affordable home ownership and education assistance. The pilot program, Betty’s Hope, seeks to give the youth in Baton Rouge, La. the necessary skills to manage grief through education. The program has served the area for nearly three years.

Warrick Dunn has shown the ability to achieve success during the worst of circumstances.

In Dunn’s 2008 autobiography “Running For My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond”, while meeting with the man on death row for the murder of his mother, Dunn told the man that he has forgiven him. Forgiveness has been the contributing factor to the success Dunn has experienced in his life. His mother would be proud to know that her son has helped many families similar to her own attain her dream of owning a home for the first time.

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