Tampa Bay’s 10 Leading Men 2013: Warrick Dunn

March 10, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: 10 Leading Men, Editorial, People | Tags: 717 South, Atlanta Falcons, Homes for the Holidays, tampa bay buccaneers, Warrick Dunn, Warrick Dunn Charities

Warrick D. Dunn

Founder of Warrick Dunn Charities, Limited Partner of the Atlanta Falcons, Former NFL Running Back

Warrick Dunn last suited up as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer in 2008 but his impact on the community is just as great as the day he left. Born and raised in Louisiana, the diminutive running back was drafted out of Florida State in 1997 and quickly became a fan favorite for his tenacious hustle. Off the field, he’s done some amazing charity work in the name of his mother Betty, a single parent who was killed while on duty as a bank security guard. Through this tremendous pain, Dunn has dedicated his life to helping hardworking single parents.


How did you become involved with your charity? I started the Charities in honor of my mother. As a single parent, she worked as a police woman and security guard. Her goal was to one day be able to afford a home of her own. She was killed on the job before she could realize her dream. Through the Homes for the Holidays program, I’m able to help hardworking single parents, like my mom, embrace the joy of homeownership. After she passed away, my siblings and I did not really have healthy avenues to manage our grief. The Betty’s Hope program, named for my mother, serves to offer that type of support for children in my hometown of Baton Rouge. It’s a mobile program that works with kids who have experienced a loss. We offer group counseling and a safe, fun space where they are able to grieve in their own way, something that would have helped my family at the time of my mom’s death.

What is one of your favorite memories when working with your charity? At one home presentation, a mother hugged me and physically picked me up. That was when I really knew I was making a difference. But, the reactions from one family to the next are all my favorites. They are all memorable.

As a leading man, what is one of your proudest accomplishments? I took a dream and made it into a reality. I’ve been doing it for over 15 years now, and it has been an amazing journey for me.

What’s one food you won’t eat? I’m not into mushrooms or cauliflower or anything like that. I like what I like and that’s what I eat.


Outside of charity work, what inspires you?  Opportunity inspires me. If you work hard and have a positive attitude, different opportunities will open up. I believe that you should put yourself in good positions for good things to happen. 

Which Bay-area spots of spots do you take your out-of-town guests to really show off our city? Once my guests get to Tampa, I don’t have to do much else. I don’t have to really take them anywhere. They love the weather, the palm trees, everything. When I do take them to see the town, we go to the very historic Ybor city, downtown Tampa, and Soho is a nice spot because it is close to the beach with a good surrounding community.

What advice would you pass on to younger generations?  Dream, believe, and work hard. You’re not going to succeed at everything. When you fail at something, try again. Do something you love, something you are passionate about.

What are you currently reading?  I just started reading Country Of My Skull for school. I’m in the MBA program at Emory so most of my reading surrounds school.

What does your dream vacation look like?  I’ve never thought about it. I’m living my dream now. This is my vacation.

If you could have a super power what would it be and why? If I had a super power I would have every power Captain America has, because I like to help people.

Name one thing most people wouldn’t know about you. Im really into music, I am a big music lover.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?  When I was a kid, I wanted to be a businessman.

Favorite album of all time I don’t have just one favorite album. I love music so much, especially old school music.

Favorite childhood television show Good Times

Who is your favorite hero of fiction? Captain America.

If a movie were made about your life, whom would you want to play you? I would have to have a serious audition. I’m sure there are a lot of great actors who could play the part, but I don’t have a specific person in mind.

Do you have a motto of words of wisdom that you live by? Just the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.