Former NFL player and founder, Warrick Dunn Charities
Warrick Dunn was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on January 5, 1975. He played cornerback, running back and quarterback at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA and was heavily recruited as a high school senior before committing to Florida State University (FSU).
At FSU, Dunn was a three-time first-team All-ACC performer, where he became the first running back in the school’s history to record three 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He finished as the Seminoles’ career leader in rushing yards, gaining 3,959 to surpass Greg Allen’s 3,769 (1981-84). He averaged 6.9 yards per carry as a collegian, setting a Seminole record and the top mark by a NCAA Division 1-A player (minimum 300 carries) in 50 years (Army’s Glenn Davis, 8.3 avg., 1943-46). He was also considered one of the nation’s top pass-catching backs, snaring 132 career receptions for 1,314 yards and scoring 47 touchdowns in four FSU sea-sons—37 rushing and 10 receiving—to break Allen’s previous school record of 46.
Dunn had 21 100-yard rushing games, the most in Seminole history, and as a senior earned second-team All-America accolades from the Associated Press and was a first-team choice of the Football News. He was selected to the All-ACC first team for three consecutive years and was presented with the conference’s Commis-sioner’s Award.
His freshman year, he led the team with 10 touchdowns (four rushing, six receiving), a rare feat by any standard. Dunn graduated in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in Information Studies.
Warrick Dunn was originally drafted in the first round (12th pick overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In 1997 he was named NFL Rookie of the Year by Football News, Pro Football Weekly and Sports Illustrated and designated Offensive Rookie of the Year by the Associated Press, Football Digest and College and Pro Football Newsweekly.
After playing for five years with the Buccaneers, Dunn signed with the Atlanta Falcons as an unrestricted free agent on March 15, 2002. During his first season in Atlanta (2002), he produced four 100-yard rushing games after playing through a painful toe injury and hamstring problems in 2001. Dunn rushed for 5,979 yards with the Falcons, ranking third in the team’s history.
In 2007, Dunn became the 22nd player in NFL history to reach 10,000 rushing yards and 4,000 yards receiving.
After six seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, Dunn returned to Tampa, Florida and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on March 10, 2008 as an unrestricted free agent. Having competed for 12 years, Dunn retired from the NFL following the 2008 season.
Warrick is a three-time Pro Bowl selection, having played in the 1997, 2000 and 2005 Pro Bowls.
Over the years Warrick has received numerous honors in recognition of his work on and off the field, including:
- 2015 Big Brothers Big Sisters Legacy Award Honoree
- 2014 General Motors African Ancestry Network (GMAAN) Trailblazer Award
- 2013 Louisiana Champion of Service Award
- 2012 “A Little Hope” Visionary Award for his work with Betty’s Hope Children’s Bereavement Program
- 2012 Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame
- 2011 Jefferson Awards Outstanding Athlete in Service & Philanthropy
- 2010 Heisman Humanitarian Award
- 2010 11 Alive Community Service Award
- 2009 Bank of America Local Hero
- 2009 Bart Starr Award
- 2008 World Sports Humanitarian Hall of Fame
- 2008 42nd annual Byron “Whizzer” White Award recipient
- 2008 JB Award through the NFL Player’s Association
- 2007 Inaugural The Home Depot NFL Neighborhood MVP Award
- 2007 Florida State University Alumni Association’s Circle of Gold
- 2007 American Youth Football's Giving Back Pro of the Year Award
- 2004 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year
- 2004 Jessie Tuggle Humanitarian Award
- 2003 Atlanta Falcons’ Man of the Year
- 2003 The Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Award
- 2003 The National Center on Black Philanthropy
- 2003 The Frank Ski Kids Foundation - Athlete of the Year
- May 5, 2003 Issue Sports Illustrated’s 101 Most Influential Minorities in Sports
- 2003 The Boy Scouts of America – Atlanta’s Peach of an Athlete Award
- 2002 Inducted into Florida State University’s Hall of Fame
- 1999, 2000, 2003, & 2004 Sporting News’ 75 Good Guys in Sports
- 1997 NFL Rookie of Year
- 1997, 2000 and 2005 NFL Pro Bowl
- Sporting News’ Top 100 Most Powerful Sports Personalities
Dunn is as well known for his philanthropic endeavors as he is for his success as a professional football player. Warrick Dunn Charities, established in 2002, improves lives through innovative programming inspired by Dunn’s life journey. Warrick started Homes for the Holidays, a program of the Charities, in 1997 during his rookie year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The program is a tribute to his mother, Betty Smothers, a Baton Rouge police officer who as a single-mother of six worked tirelessly to achieve the American dream of owning her own home. While working a second job as a security guard, she was killed in the line of duty and was never able to realize that dream.
Through Homes for the Holidays, Warrick has been able to honor her memory. The mission of the Homes for the Holidays program is to provide opportunities for economically disadvantaged single parents and children who have demonstrated a commitment to achieve financial independence and stability. In 2007, Homes for the Holidays expanded to include single fathers. To date, the program has rewarded over 147 single parents and over 399 children and dependents for achieving first-time homeownership nationwide, including in Atlanta, Georgia; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Baltimore, Maryland; Dallas, Texas; Topeka, Kansas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Jacksonville, Tampa and Tallahassee, Florida.
For his outstanding role as a community leader, Dunn was invited in April 2005, along with Patriots linebacker Larry Izzo, to visit U.S. troops in Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq and to dedicate a new USO building, The Pat Tillman Center, in Afghanistan. In 2004, the NFL selected Dunn and two other players to travel with former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue to visit U.S. military troops stationed in Germany. He captured the “No. 1 Good Guy” Award from Sporting News’ Annual List of Good Guys in Pro Sports in June 2005.
In 2007, Dunn, along with Andre Agassi, Muhammad Ali, Lance Armstrong, Jeff Gordon, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, Andrea Jaeger, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Mario Lemieux, Alonzo Mourning and Cal Ripken, Jr., founded Athletes for Hope, a non-profit organization that helps professional athletes and the broader community develop their passion for philanthropy.
In December 2009, Dunn realized his long-time goal of expanding his knowledge and experience in the area of NFL team management, branding and operations when he was unanimously approved by NFL owners to become a limited partner of the Atlanta Falcons. The purchase of his minority ownership position in the club was completed in March 2010.
In 2012, Dunn became an honorary member of the National High School Scholars Board of Advisors and also began serving on the Board of Advisors for the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University School of Law. This same year, Warrick Dunn Charities created the Betty’s Hope program in Dunn’s hometown of Baton Rouge to give children and teens a safe place to heal and find an enhanced quality of life through group support.
In 2013, Dunn graduated with his EMBA from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Dunn also was selected to join 18 other former players, including two Hall of Famers, to form the first class of NFL Legends. He will work closely with NFL Player Engagement and with the NFL marketing department and oversee the Legends Program, a program designed to help former NFL players connect with each other, their former teams and the NFL.