While many exchanged gifts this past holiday season, some women were receiving the biggest gifts of their lives—that of their very own homes—thanks to Warrick Dunn and his Homes for the Holidays program, one of several giving programs that fall under his Warrick Dunn Charities foundation.

It seems that as soon as he could, FSU Hall-of-Famer and NFL running back great (Tampa Bay Bucs, Atlanta Falcons) Warrick Dunn started giving back to his community in a very specific way.

Now, almost 20 years later, that giving has reached a record he may prize more than that of his blindingly bright football career, according to word from his own foundation.

What’s the score so far? 145 homes and counting.

In 1997, Warrick Dunn was a first-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That same year, he founded Homes for the Holidays in partnership with the Buc’s community relations department. The history behind the giving is as heart-wrenching as it is hope-giving.

Just before he graduated high school and was facing down the numerous full-time scholarships he’d earned at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA, his mother Betty Smothers was killed while working her second job, that of security guard at a bank.

The tragedy left Dunn facing down the role of father to his five younger siblings.

Almost everything seemed cut short.  And Dunn could have given up.

Instead, he gave back, honoring his mother and making the world a better place—one where hope always wins out. No matter what.

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