A Buccaneers' Heart

On the field, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Warrick Dunn is known for his explosive speed and dazzling moves. It is said he runs with a lot of heart. Off the field, the size of his heart is even more obvious.

Two years ago he founded Homes for the Holidays, a charitable program for single mothers. The Early Show reports.

Dunn was back in his hometown of Baton Rouge again last Tuesday to help three families with single mothers realize for the first time their dreams of owning their own homes.

To understand why Dunn put down payments on their new homes and stocked the rooms with furniture, appliances and groceries, one needs to go back to his own childhood.

He was one of six children raised by a single mother who juggled several jobs to support her family.

Dunn's mother was Baton Rouge Police Corporal Betty Smothers. One of her off-duty jobs involved making late-night deposits at a bank. And one night, she was shot to death while carrying out that job.

Her death left Dunn as the father figure to his five siblings.

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"I learned how to be a big brother, dad and a mother, and I think it's just going to pay off for me in the long run. But sometimes it's pressure because those guys look at you for support every day, and I'm only 24 years old," says Dunn.

"I still have my own life to live. That's probably the hardest thing that I have to do. But God wakes me up every morning and gives me the strength. And he's put me in positions and in predicaments knowing that I can handle the situation so if I couldn't handle it, I don't think he would have put me in the situation," he adds.

Not long after her death, Dunn enrolled at Florida State on a football scholarship, and four years later signed an $8.8 million contract with the Buccaneers.

Soon thereafter, he launched Homes for the Holidays. Dunn had dreamed of buying his mother the house she had always wanted. Now, for a second year, he has brought tears and smiles to the faces of other women and their children in Baton Rouge through his program.

He has also helped single mothers in Tampa, Fla. The recipients are chosen from profiles of single mothers who were buying houses with help from the city's office of community development, he says.

"It's tough, because you can't satisfy everybody, and that's probably the hardest thing because a lot of people are deserving, and you can't reach out to everybody. But hopefully in the years to come, we can reach out to a lot of people," Dunn adds.

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