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... to look after and serve one another

"One of the most important lessons I learned from my mother's life was to never lose sight of where all blessings come from, and the responsibility we have as human beings to look after and serve one another."

A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Warrick grew up as the oldest of six children, experiencing the struggles of a single-parent family. Warrick's mother, Betty Smothers, was a police officer who often worked security shifts to provide for her family.

Her goal was to one day realize the American Dream of home ownership. Tragically, she was gunned down in an armed robbery during an off-duty shift, leaving 18-year-old Warrick to care for his five younger siblings. The Baton Rouge community banded together to create a memorial fund for his family in honor of his mother's selfless public service to the city of Baton Rouge.

Grateful for this outpouring of support and through his mother's example in life and death, Warrick was provided the tools to become a pillar of hope and strength; not only for his family, but also for the communities he has called home.

Homes for the Holidays

During his rookie season in the National Football League (NFL) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he realized the impact he could make through a positive image and community involvement. Challenged by Coach Tony Dungy to become a vital part of the community, Warrick established the Homes for the Holidays (HFTH) program.

"We are so pleased that Aaron's and the Warrick Dunn Charities are making dreams come true and changing lives by rewarding single parents and their families as they begin homeownership."
— Ken Butler, Aaron's Inc.
In 1998, HFTH began to enhance homeownership in Warrick's hometown of Baton Rouge. Although the Homes for the Holidays program has existed since 1997, Warrick Dunn Charities was established in 2002 as a way to grow programs and services for single-parent families. When Warrick signed with the Falcons in 2002, the program followed him to Atlanta. In 2007, the Charities expanded the program to serve Tallahassee where he graduated from Florida State University.

"Since 1997, Homes for the Holidays has rewarded over 100 single parents and over 300 children who have reached the American dream of first-time home ownership.

HFTH not only provides uplifting support for these communities, it is also a way for Warrick to share his mother's dream with single parents who have reached the goal of home ownership.

Athletes for Hope

In 2007, Dunn, along with Andre Agassi, Muhammed 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 which helps professional athletes and the community develop their passion for philanthropy. Athletes for Hope has grown from its original welve founders to over 1,000 athletes across many sports leagues, including the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, and the Olympic movement.

The Warrick Dunn Player of the Year award

Established in 2007, the Warrick Dunn Player of the Year award is given annually to the top football player in the Baton Rouge/Northern Louisiana area. The award honors not only productivity on the field, but also intangibles like good character, unselfishness and sportsmanship.

Past Winners

  • 2007, Blaine Gautier, QB, Lutcher (UL-Lafayette)
  • 2008, Shane Andrus, RB, Christian Life Academy
  • 2009, Frankie Jackson, RB, Capitol (Arkansas State)
  • 2010, Terrence Magee, QB, Franklinton (LSU)
  • 2011, Landon Collins, Dutchtown (Alabama)

For more information about Warrick Dunn Charities and its programs please visit

Easing the pain

A mobile children's bereavement program

Following his mother's death, the pressure of leading his family, and creating a work/life balance were taking their toll.

After receiving advice from a teammate, Dunn realized that counseling might ease the pain in his life so that he could heal and begin to live a more peaceful and fulfilling life.

After working with a therapist and learning more about children bereavement programs, Warrick decided to bring the same sense of hope to his hometown of Baton Rouge, where he first learned the value of community support.

As a result, Betty's Hope, a mobile children's bereavement program serving Baton Rouge was launched in 2012.

Betty's Hope empowers youth aged 5 to 18 to manage grief in a responsive environment in an effort to heal and enhance their quality of life. It creates a meaningful canvas for children, and the adults who care about them, to find the tools and resources to realize that their loss is not their whole story, but a key piece to what and who each one will become.