Throughout his 12-year career with both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Atlanta Falcons, running back Warrick Dunn was known for his big plays as both a runner and a receiver. Following his retirement, however, the Florida State product is more known for improving the lives of others. Tuesday morning, he surprised a single mother in St. Petersburg with a fully-furnished two-bedroom home.
In partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties, furniture company Aaron’s, healthcare provider Cigna, and his nonprofit, Warrick Dunn Charities, Dunn helped provide the home for LaToya Reedy and her 18-year-old son, AnTrez. The single mother and nursing assistant had been struggling with the rising cost of rent and had been forced to move into a crowded living situation with her mother.
Warrick Dunn giving homes to single-mother's so perfect I just can't pic.twitter.com/E9OVf9Ruak— Jassie (@JasanaQueen) October 16, 2019
In order to make this home possible, Habitat for Humanity bought an empty lot at 918 43rd St. South near Childs Park and built a residence that is nearly 2,000 square feet. Aaron’s donated $10,000 toward furniture, appliances, and interior design. This included coffee makers, appliances, furniture, lawn equipment, and other necessities. Cigna donated $10,000 towards down payment assistance and groceries, along with $5,000 in Publix gift cards.
This program of building homes for single mothers in need actually started when Dunn was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the years since, he has presented 173 homes to those in need.
Days prior to his 18th birthday, Dunn's mother was killed. She was a single mother of six and was working two jobs as a police officer and a security guard in order to make ends meet. The future NFL running raised his siblings while pursuing his college career at Florida State University and during his time in the league.
At the time, he was unable to mourn or focus on anything other than making sure that he could take care of his siblings. However, this program has provided Dunn with the opportunity to find joy through helping others.
“I’ve used this program as therapy,” Dunn said. “Every time I hand over those keys there’s a little piece of my mom and the things she wanted.”
At every home, Dunn leaves a little tribute to his mother by providing a baked apple pie. This was her favorite dessert.
Interestingly enough, one of these homes presented by Dunn actually impacted a future NFL star. Back in the early 2000s, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was a child growing up in Gainesville, Georgia, living in government housing. He spent time playing pickup basketball with drug dealers and gang members, per ESPN.
In 2006, Warrick Dunn gave Deshaun Watson's (in black sweatshirt) family a home.
Watson just gave his 1st NFL check to hurricane victims. pic.twitter.com/8Mj5I8X5x6— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 28, 2017
The situation changed, however, when he attended a church function for underprivileged kids. Watson brought home a basket of candy, which also included a pamphlet for Habitat for Humanity. If his mother was willing to spend 300 hours building homes for those in need, she would be able to move into one of her own.
Upon completing her required work, Watson's mother was surprised by Dunn and a fully-furnished, four-bedroom home. Little did Dunn know that Watson would later become a National Champion at Clemson, a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and one of the NFL's biggest names.