Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond

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Overview

NFL running back Warrick Dunn is truly one of the good guys in the world of sports. And in this revealing autobiography, written with New York Times bestselling author Don Yaeger, Dunn tells his incredibly moving, inspirational story of courage and determination in the face of devastating loss, a story that makes his achievements on the football field that much more amazing.

Warrick Dunn and his five brothers and sisters all idolized their mother, Baton Rouge police officer ...

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Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond

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Overview

NFL running back Warrick Dunn is truly one of the good guys in the world of sports. And in this revealing autobiography, written with New York Times bestselling author Don Yaeger, Dunn tells his incredibly moving, inspirational story of courage and determination in the face of devastating loss, a story that makes his achievements on the football field that much more amazing.

Warrick Dunn and his five brothers and sisters all idolized their mother, Baton Rouge police officer Betty Smothers. As the oldest, Dunn was the closest to her, and the man of the house. On January 7, 1993, while the single mother worked a second job as a supermarket security guard, Betty Smothers was ambushed, shot, and killed while making a bank deposit. Dunn—then a high school senior just weeks away from choosing among his college football scholarship offers—was devastated.

Dunn was only eighteen when circumstances changed and he had to look after his five siblings, but somehow he managed to enroll at Florida State and, in only his freshman year, help their team quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner and roommate Charlie Ward, win the National Championship for the 1993–94 season. And this was just the beginning of Dunn's successful career as a student athlete, which resulted in his selection to the FSU Hall of Fame.

Despite his modest size, Dunn's athleticism, incomparable drive, and personality convinced Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy to select Dunn in the first round of the 1997 draft with the twelth overall pick. During his career with the Bucs and, subsequently, the Atlanta Falcons, Dunn amassed five 1,000-yard rushing seasons, was selected to the NFL ProBowl three times, and became one of only twenty-three running backs to exceed the 10,000-yard career rushing mark. In 2008, he returned to the Bucs seeking to continue his success. But perhaps his greatest achievement during his time as an NFL player came off the field when he started a foundation called Homes for the Holidays, a charity that helps single parents become homeowners. To date, he has placed 74 single parents and their 192 dependents in fully furnished and outfitted homes in Tampa, Tallahassee, Baton Rouge, and Atlanta.

But there was one person Dunn neglected in his drive to help others—himself. He spent all of his emotional energy on his siblings and their pain, and never focused on his own. His only solace was the football field, where he truly was running for his life. It wasn't until a Falcons teammate suggested psychological counseling that Dunn began to battle the demons still haunting him from his mother's death.

Uplifting and thought-provoking, Running for My Life is the story of an athlete's drive to help his family and ensure that his mother's legacy and values continue—the story of what it really takes to be a man.

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Editorial Reviews

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In 2008, Warrick Dunn went into Louisiana's Angola Prison to sit down with the death row inmate convicted of killing his mother. "It wasn't something that I wanted to do," Dunn admitted, "It was something I needed to do." When Dunn's police officer mom was gunned down by robbers in 1993, he was a high school football star, but he hadn't yet achieved the fame that he would grasp as a star running back for Florida State University, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Running for My Life is not only the story of one of the NFL's greatest all-time rushers; it is the memoir of a man who achieved great things despite crushing emotional blows and setbacks.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061432644
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/4/2008
  • Pages: 288
  • Lexile: 1100L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.28 (w) x 6.22 (h) x 1.05 (d)

Meet the Author

Warrick Dunn is a former first-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his professional accomplishments include five 1,000-yard rushing seasons, three Pro Bowl selections, and the longest touchdown run in Atlanta Falcons history. Dunn also became the Falcons' fifth all-time rushing leader.

Don Yaeger is an eight-time New York Times best-selling author, longtime associate editor at Sports Illustrated, and award-winning inspirational speaker. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife, son, and daughter.

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Read an Excerpt

Running for My Life
My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond

Chapter One

Face to Face

To get to Angola State Prison from Baton Rouge, -Louisiana—a distance of fifty-six miles—you go north on Highway 61, then take a hard left on Highway 66. Or you can get there by committing the most serious of crimes.

For years I had wondered about Kevan Brumfield. He had confessed to killing my mother, Baton Rouge police corporal Betty Smothers, in the early morning of January 7, 1993, in an ambush at a local bank. Two years later a jury deliberated a little more than sixty minutes and decided that Brumfield should die for murdering Mom in the fatal attempted robbery.

In the months and years afterward, I wrestled with one question that was never answered: Why? What was on Brumfield's mind as he and another man, Henri Broadway, lay in wait in near-total darkness as Mom's police cruiser pulled up to the bank's night deposit box? What did Brumfield think when he and Broadway charged out from behind bushes and fired shots into the car, killing my mother and wounding her passenger, Kimen Lee, night manager at a local Piggly Wiggly store, as she made a store deposit? Did Brumfield understand the severity of his actions as he and Broadway piled into the getaway car driven by a third man named West Paul?

It made absolutely no sense. Why?

Then an opportunity presented itself in October 2007 to go to Angola State Prison and actually get the chance to ask Brumfield the questions that have haunted me for years. Questions that kept me awake for so many nights. Questions that caused me to cry. Questions about amoment that changed my life like no other.

The meeting took months and countless telephone calls to arrange. There were casual and personal conversations with lawyers, prison officials, and football coaches. There were delays, changes of minds, emotional highs and lows. But it finally all came together on Tuesday, October 23, in a bye week of my NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons. My coaches realized how important this was and they decided to cut me loose for a day.

I flew from Atlanta into New Orleans, where my younger brother Derrick Green picked me up and drove me back to my hometown of Baton Rouge. I was accompanied to the prison by Maelen "Choo-Choo" Brooks, my youth football coach and mentor. I was also accompanied by Don Yaeger, this book's co¬author. Choo-Choo is probably as much like a father as anybody I'll ever have. He was one of the first people I saw after Mom's murder, and his guidance and support have been invaluable over the years. Still, Choo-Choo couldn't believe I wanted to do this. That was the reaction I got from almost everybody. Most people couldn't believe I wanted to make this visit. But I knew it was important for me to finally face my demons.

Before I went to Angola, I spent hours in conversation with my Atlanta counselor, Pauline Clance. She believed it was a good idea, a positive move, because she clearly understood that there were some things in my life that I would never get over until I sat across the table from him.

It was set.

I found myself in a small break room on Death Row at Angola State Prison, eye to eye with Kevan Brumfield.

The days and nights leading up to the visit were somewhat unsettling. I tried not to let it dominate my mind, even pretending the meeting wasn't happening. I went to the movies. I slept a lot. I started gathering my thoughts and talking to my brothers and sisters, compiling questions they wanted me to ask. The weekend prior to the trip was difficult because we also lost to the New Orleans Saints on that Sunday. It was our third consecutive defeat and the sixth in our first seven games. Drained and tired, I actually just wanted to relax and enjoy the time off. It was really my first break since the start of the 2007 season.

As I prepared for the visit, however, people often said or asked, "Do you need anyone to go with you? Do you need anyone to be there for you? How do you feel? I'm proud of you that you have the courage to do this. Hopefully, you will find the answers you are looking for." It was crazy. I think they made it more of a big deal than I had. The truth is, I was ner¬vous but really didn't want to let it show. How would the conversation go? What if he said something horrible or acted as if this were no big deal? How would I maintain control?

There were more questions than answers. Friends tried to caution me, prepare me. What I have always tried to tell people is that sometimes in life, you really don't know what you can do until you have to go through it. If my mom were still on this earth, I would probably tell people that I couldn't go on without her. But I have overcome that one. I knew that no matter how bad this meeting was, I could overcome that, too.

It was a calm, cloudy morning on Tuesday, October 23. We had an official escort named Chad who drove us to Angola State Prison from Baton Rouge in a prison SUV. While we navigated the long roads in near silence, the text message alert on my cell phone kept going off. It was my sister Summer Smothers and others all sending me notes wishing me luck, praying for me. An earlier text nearly brought tears to my eyes. It was from Hue Jackson, my offensive coordinator with the Falcons, who encouraged me to remain strong. He hoped that I would find the answers and peace my heart looked for.

As we got closer, there's no question that I became more physically tight. It had been a roller coaster of emotion. One day I was ready for the visit, another day Iwasn't. Earlier dates had been scheduled but were snatched away. I also contemplated asking Summer and Derrick to join me, since they are only a few years younger than me and they remembered that horrific night vivdly. While Mom's murder also had greatly affected them, I just didn't think either one was in the right frame of mind to meet face to face with Brumfield. I still appreciated their support, along with that of my three other brothers and sisters, because everyone felt this meeting could offer some type of freedom for me.

Running for My Life
My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond
. Copyright © by Warrick Dunn. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    Run, Dunn Run!! - And take it straight to the BIG SCREEN!!

    His name means "Warrier" - destined for battle, yet destined for Victory! This book is a must-read for all. As the captivating scenarios take you back in time, you'll literally feel the rush- the energy of the ingeniously described events that shaped and changed Warrick's life forever. Be prepared to ride an emotional rollercoater. - Unless you're a cold fish, you'll need to keep the tissues handy - and read the book in bits and pieces as you regroup and pull yourself together - as I did.<BR/>I am looking forward to seeing Dunn go the to next level and take this book to the big screen!! <BR/>And now to Dunn:<BR/> Like God fashioned David, an ordinary man, he has also made you King - and with rare humility, you wear your crown well!! Hence, I support you in all that you do....May the 'Peace, protection, and love of God' be with you and your family; now and forever.<BR/><BR/>Hugs and Kisses!!<BR/>Tonya in Duluth, GA

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    A must read for all NFL fans!

    Even if you are not a Bucs fan, or a Falcons fan...this is a must read. Warrick Dunn has a really touching and inspiring story about his struggle to deal with his mother's death and having to raise his brothers and sisters. Dunn is a down to earth guy who believes in doing good for others since he has the ability to currently. It has great flow, and I think you would love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    100 Reader Rating STARS!

    Short Review: With the purchase of "Running for my Life," you may very well find yourself back in line purchasing extra copies and checking off a few names on your Christmas or Birthday shopping list.<BR/><BR/>Long Review: My apologies for going on and on, but I have never ever read an autobiography that has touched me in so many ways as "Running for my Life." Bored one Sunday afternoon, I stumbled across "Quiet Strength" by Coach Tony Dungy where I first learned about Warrick's work both on and off the field. Around this time, I also learned that Warrick's autobiography would be coming out in a month. Woohoo! To be honest, I wasn't expecting RFML to be as engaging of a read as "Quiet Strength," but Warrick put his heart and magic on paper, and I could not put RFML down!!!<BR/><BR/>I have to say for as much as Warrick's mom, the great Betty Smother's death is tragic and so incredibly heart-wrenching as detailed by Warrick and Mr. Yaeger in RFML, both Warrick's and his mother's life prove to be even greater in grace and beauty. Everlasting. After reading this book, you may very well find yourself wishing that there was a store to buy SMILES, STRENGTH, HAPPINESS, and NOTES TO HEAVEN to send to Warrick and to his siblings. You may also find yourself feeling grateful toward Betty Smothers, Warrick's siblings, Warrick's grandmother, Choo-Choo, Coach Bowden, Charlie Ward, Coach Dungy, and the Baton Rouge community, at large, for creating and shaping such an inspiring person in Warrick Dunn, one of Betty Smother's great legacies.<BR/><BR/>RFML should be made into a movie--perhaps a documentary. So very touching...Think along the lines of "Brian's Song" and those tear drops that most of us shed for Brian Piccolo and for Gale Sayers. Wah.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 6, 2008

    Amazing Walk With God

    This was a very heartfelt story. It was educational, warm and inspirational. I felt as I was involved in his life. Everyone should read this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Hdj

    Hi

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 30, 2010

    Best Book Ever

    Running For My Life

    By Warrick Dunn and Don Yaeger

    Warrick Dunn is a great man and great football player.Not only does he run through defenses and also supports his community.This book is a story how Warrick Dunn had his life turned around by the devastation of his mother's death . He had to get a job to support his sibilings . This heart warming book tells how he managed to be successful in life . This book is a great story of a great man and a great football player.I liked this book and I highly recomend it , to football fans and non-football fans alike.

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  • Posted May 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    You Can't Put It Down!!

    Plain and simple....If you don't tear up reading this WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL book, you don't have a heart. Warrick keeps his mother's memory alive in 'Running for My Life'.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2009

    Poignant and Personal

    Dunn has been my favorite running back since his debut at Florida State University. I was not surprised to have confirmed that his determination, work ethic, and generosity apply both on and off the field. A more honest and poignant story was never told. I was disappointed in the number of editorial errors within the book, but I could easily forgive those because of the personal and therapeutic nature of the narrative. It was as if Warrick Dunn himself were speaking as a friend directly to me. What a great guy!

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  • Posted January 24, 2009

    Heart Gripping to Say the Least!!!

    I passed over this book and went back to purchase it because something about the title kept drawing me to it. As a previous reviewer stated" You can not put it DOWN!" RFML evoked much more than W. Dunn ever thought could come from someone. Each portion of his testimony touches a part of the reader and forces you to face the unveiled realization of whats hidden.<BR/><BR/>Thank you and continue with what God has in store for you! (Stay true which is refreshing) and I am sure this book will reach the peak just as your yardage did! <BR/>"Truly a MUST READ!!!"

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  • Posted January 11, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    character and courage

    running for my life is a very special book that is not only a football book but it has many life lessons that the arthur shares with his readers .warrick dunn gives you the ups and downs of his life and tells you how he delt with his hurtful things in his life like the death of his mother. this is a special book cause he tells you how he deals with his situations and how he made his life better as a result. plus he gives you an insiders account of the nfl and the tampa bay buccaneers and his life in football. this book can be very helpful. great gift for a friend or family member.

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    Posted January 13, 2011

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    Posted December 8, 2008

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    Posted January 27, 2009

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    Posted January 27, 2011

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    Posted October 29, 2012

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    Posted November 10, 2008

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