TAMPA — Bucs running back Warrick Dunn won the prestigious Bart Starr Award, which honors players who make a difference through community service, at Saturday's annual Athletes in Action Super Bowl Breakfast.
Dunn was lauded for his Warrick Dunn Foundation Homes for the Holidays program, which offers down payments and furnishing to single parents. It has provided 84 homes, the latest being awarded Tuesday in Tampa.
Dunn, 34, took the microphone and thanked God, his late mother and Tampa.
"You guys really supported me when I came here as a rookie (in 1997) and really throughout my whole career," he said.
Dunn played for the Bucs for five years before going to Atlanta. He returned to the Bucs in 2008.
Speaking to about 7,000 people at the sold-out Sun Dome, he said his mother was the inspiration behind his efforts to help single parents become first-time home buyers.
"My mom's dream was to own her own home, and she never had the opportunity," he said.
Dunn's mother, a Baton Rouge police officer, was shot and killed in 1993, when Dunn was a high school senior.
He also talked about visiting the prison where his mother's killer waits out his sentence on death row.
"I told him, 'I forgive you,' " Dunn said.
Dunn also donates time and resources to Athletes for Hope, Boy Scouts and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
He was up against some tough competition for the award, named for the former Green Bay Packers quarterback, coach and Hall of Famer.
The two other finalists — quarterbacks Kurt Warner of the Arizona Cardinals and Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints — also started their own foundations.
But Bucs fans in the audience were happy to have one of their own carry off the award, and they gave him two standing ovations.