Warrick Dunn has accomplished a lot during his distinguished career – from helping the Florida State Seminoles win a national title to rushing for nearly 11,000 yards while playing for the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – but Dunn’s true legacy hasn’t been on the football field. It’s been his efforts to remember his mother through his incredible charitable efforts to help single parents get a home of their own. In the last 11 years, Dunn has given 78 single parents in Atlanta, Tampa, Baton Rouge and Tallahassee get their own homes.
And now Dunn, with help of writer Don Yaeger, has tried to give some insight into his life, and most importantly, the moment that changed it forever: The murder of Dunn’s mother, Betty Smothers, a Baton Rouge police officer who was ambushed and killed while working a second job as a security guard. Dunn had just turned 18 years old when his mother was gunned down.
The book Running for My Life details how Dunn made an amazing decision last year to travel to Angola State Prison in Louisiana to visit Kevan Brumfield, who is on death row for the murder. One excerpt available here is chilling as Dunn goes over the list of questions he wants to ask Brumfield, only to hear his mother’s killer insist that he was wrongly convicted of the crime. The passage also details how the death of his mother forever changed Dunn’s life, especially since he was forced into the role of helping take care of his five siblings. He admits how he has been afraid of starting his own family because he never again wanted to be in a position where someone would take something precious away from him.
But then Dunn goes on to explain how he decided to forgive Brumfield anyway – and how he poured out his “soul” to this killer.
Former NFL star Tiki Barber did a story on the Today Show about Dunn’s experience and in the piece Dunn says he’s now free and he has no plans to return to witness Brumfield’s execution when the time comes. But more importantly, the video shows Dunn hand a set of house keys to a single mother and say “here’s my mother’s dream,” a reference to the fact his own mother never got a home of her own.
It’s a powerful moment that now has even more clarity thanks to Dunn’s own revealing words.
(Warrick Dunn – who isn’t playing this week because the Tampa Bay Bucs are off – will appear at the Tallahassee Borders book store at noon on Nov. 8 to sign copies of his new book.)