Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A former Buc's life sends a powerful message

Warrick Dunn speaks last week at a vigil for slain police officers in Baton Rouge, La.


Warrick Dunn speaks last week at a vigil for slain police officers in Baton Rouge, La.

One man cannot change the world. Good. Bad. Mahatma Gandhi had his devoted followers. Adolf Hitler had his henchmen.

Warrick Dunn knows people have his back, too. But significant faces have vanished. His father has been distant, literally and figuratively. His mother, a police officer in Louisiana, was killed in a robbery attempt in 1993 as she drove a grocery store manager to the bank to make a night deposit.

Dunn could have given up right then and become another lost soul. Broken families and gun violence are powerful enemies.

But Dunn chose the good fight. Two days after his 18th birthday, he became the man of the house as the oldest of six siblings. He then honored his mom's wishes by attending Florida State, where he would become a star running back. He continued to shine in the NFL, playing for the Bucs and the Falcons. And he continues to honor her in so many ways.

In the middle of a racial divide over the killing of black men, followed by the slaughter of policemen in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Dunn rose up again, giving witness to the man he has become on Facebook.

"We can't just sit around and talk about how horrible all this is — we have to do something," he wrote. "And that means it ALWAYS starts with the individual."

Dunn preached accountability. He wrote about "taking the role of fatherhood very seriously so I can raise a son who makes a positive contribution."

Dunn can look at the man in the mirror and be proud, buying homes for 147 single-parent families through his charity, "Home for the Holidays." He stands proud after starting Warrick Dunn Charities in 2002 so that underprivileged children can thrive educationally, socially and economically.

He stands tall for courage in revealing in his autobiography, Running for My Life, that he has dealt with depression.

He stands stronger for seeking counseling, and finding strength to sit down with Kevan Brumfield, one of the men who ambushed and killed his mother, meeting with him in 2007 at Angola Prison.

Moments define you. Tragic ones can beget another tragedy. Dunn rejected that trajectory in his life.

Dunn became a man at FSU. He had help, of course, embraced by a compassionate coach.

"Anytime Warrick had a problem, he'd come see me," Bobby Bowden said. "He'd tell me about his brothers and sisters. Some of them were not doing like they were supposed to. They were living with their grandmother. I'd tell him what I would do, and he'd get in a car and go home, get things straightened out and come back. He was a man really early."

Dunn, now 41, has kept evolving.

Another moment came this week when Dunn attended a hearing for Brumfield. The court ruled that Brumfield will be resentenced to life after determining that he has an intellectual disability preventing the state from executing him.

"Justice still not served 23 yrs later, killer spends life in prison with 3 meals a day and breathes fresh air," Dunn posted on Instagram. "My mother didn't have the same opportunity. Closing this chapter of my life."

One chapter ends, but others will be written. Dunn's perseverance suggests they will be great ones. — Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

A former Buc's life sends a powerful message 07/25/16 [Last modified: Monday, July 25, 2016 9:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. We knew Aguayo was a goner, and 'Hard Knocks' still delivers


    Tuesday night's second installment of Hard Knocks, the HBO show that is going behind the scenes at training camp with the Bucs, had plenty of interesting tidbits, revelations and insights.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo (19) kicks during training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. For starters: Rays at Jays, looking for some carryover


    The six runs and 13 hits the Rays posted on Tuesday were a positive, but the true test if they are out of their historically bad hitting slump will come tonight and in the coming days as they try to build on their success.

    "Hopefully,'' manager Kevin Cash said after Tuesday's 6-4 win, "there is a …

    Daniel Robertson is expected to make a third straight start tonight, likely at shortstop.
  3. What you might have missed in the second episode of the Bucs on 'Hard Knocks'


    We're back for another episode of The Annotated Hard Knocks, trying to find behind-the-scenes insights and things you might have missed in Tuesday's second episode of "Hard Knocks," following the Bucs in …

    As the crowd recognized him and got loud, Jameis Winston jumped up and down in celebration. [GREG AUMAN | Times]
  4. Why Noah Spence could be the Bucs' X-factor


    JACKSONVILLE — Noah Spence crouched in a four-point stance, bending low like a sprinter in starting blocks. At the snap, he took one step to his right, startling Jaguars left tackle Josh Wells with his explosiveness. Wells went for the move and Spence countered with an inside swim move, flying past Wells' right …

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Noah Spence (57) participates in training camp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times 

  5. Lefty quarterback's task? Make sure nothing's lost in translation


    GAINESVILLE — When Florida receiver Brandon Powell first met new quarterback Malik Zaire this summer, he was struck by the Notre Dame grad transfer's enthusiasm and outgoing personality.

    Florida quarterback Malik Zaire talks with the press during the NCAA college football team's media day in Gainesville. Zaire is a lefty quarterback, just like Tim Tebow. (Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun via AP, File)