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Up close and personal
with Warrick Dunn

He is notoriously private and soft-spoken, and he seldom lets outsiders into his world. At 25, Dunn was made the legal guardian of his four siblings after the murder of his mother, a Louisiana police officer. He recently shared a few personal insights with Times staff writer Roger Mills.


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© St. Petersburg Times, published January 20, 2000

Q: Do you consider yourself a recluse?
A: I don't know. I've never been a very outgoing guy or a guy that hasdone a lot of talking. I've always tried to keep things reserved and always been quiet. That's how it's been over the years, not speaking up and not getting involved in too many things.

Q: Is being soft-spoken a good thing?
A: Sometimes it could hurt. When you're not vocal, people think they can walk over you, they tend to. I think when I was younger people always used to walk over me because I wouldn't speak up for myself. It wasn't a matter of being scared, it was a matter of, "Why should I worry about it." It was something temporary, something that would pass.

Q: Have there been times when you get loud?
A: Let's just say this, the few times I probably said something, I can't say I was always right. So now, it's best to sit back and analyze and listen before I say anything. If I get into a family argument, I usually don't win because I'm not quick-minded. I have to think about what I'm saying so that I can get my point across in the shortest way possible. That's what I try to do. I don't want to be wrong about it.

Q: Is it true that you have been more vocal this year than before?
A: I think I have said more, probably, this year than before. Things like, "Now, it's the time to step up." The offensive line gets emotional also, and for myself, those guys are at times looking for someone to feed off of. It took me three years to realize that and every once in a while I feel like I have to say something. I try to, I don't know if they can hear me, I speak so softly. It's just the way I talk. I'm probably the quietest guy in the family.

Q: How full is your life?
A: It's like I don't have enough time in the day for anything else. No time to really do the things that I want to do. You know what, I've never had the opportunities to live my life as most of these guys have, where they have no responsibility, they can come and go as they please. For myself, I put my family first.

Q: Is it difficult to be young, single and in charge of youngsters?
A: You know what, my brothers and sisters are so understanding. They realize that I am young and I have given up a lot for them and they respect the things that I like to do. I may go out, but I'm not the guy who likes to go out all the time. I haven't gone out my whole life. I get tired quickly.

Q: Has parenting been difficult?
A: It's been tough because I have had to be a big brother, a decision-maker, a discipliner, everything. But, I've learned a lot about parenting, and when it's my turn to settle down and have kids, get married, I should be ready.

Q: Does parenting get in the way of your social life?
A: Yeah, it does. Because, there's a lot you can't do. I have to respect my brothers and sisters. I just can't pick up and leave.

Q: Will it be difficult to find a wife?
A: "Well, if the (kids) are living with me it will. They are not going to want to listen to anyone else. Why should you want someone to come into your house and tell you what to do and they aren't originally a part of your family?

Warrick Dunn has been a popular Buc since the day he was drafted out of Florida State. [Times file photo]
Q: And your wife isn't going to have it easy, either?
A: She's going to have to deal with three women in my life who do not want to give me up for nobody. It's going to be difficult. As far as my grandmother is concerned, no woman is going to be good enough. Whoever I date has to understand that it's not going to be easy. If you want to be with Warrick Dunn, you have to be patient. I've been patient my whole life. Those women are going to give you hell.

Q: Rumor has it that you're frugal.
A: Let's just say I spend money when I have to. What about 20, 40 years from now? How do I want to live? What about my kids? I think about that. I think most of the guys think about that today. I try to tell the family, "Let's buy out of necessity." Now, sometimes it's good to get things you don't need to be rewarded, but let's not go overboard. I don't condemn anybody for driving a Benz or anything like that. They have the right to spend their money however they want.

Q: What's the best thing about being Warrick Dunn?
A: I can be a kid with the kids. I guess because a lot of my childhood was gone and I didn't have a lot. Now I get the opportunity to do some things and experience some things (with my brothers and sisters). Things like Disney World, theme parks, first-time experiences. The kids can go to professional football games and basketball games.

Q: Is there a soon-to-be Mrs. Dunn in the picture?
A: No! There's no Mrs. Warrick Dunn. I'm scared of getting married. I'm just not ready for it. I still have a lot more to experience. Having these teenagers makes me want to have a little more time for myself. That's all I want, time for myself. Time to relax, to have fun, to travel, experience some things before I have to say: "Will you?"

WD-40: Dunn and Alstott. [Times file photo]

By the numbers

  • 1.6 -- Yards per carry against Washington.
  • 7 -- Games this season Dunn led the Bucs or tied for the lead in receptions.
  • 4.3 -- Yards per carry going into the 1999 season.
  • 64 -- Regular-season receptions, a team high.
  • 68 -- Total yards on four kickoff returns against the Redskins.
  • 1,255 -- Total yards from scrimmage this season.
  • 2,620 -- Rushing yards in three seasons.

Fast facts

  • HEIGHT: 5-8. WEIGHT: 180.
  • BORN: Jan. 5, 1975, Baton Rouge, La.COLLEGE: Florida State; the first player in FSU history to finish with three 1,000-yard seasons.
  • MAJOR: Information studies.
  • STATUS: Single.
  • OFF-SEASON: Resides in Tampa with three siblings for whom he is legal guardian.
  • CHARITIES: Homes for the Holidays, a program designed to help single mothers acquire new homes in Baton Rouge and Tampa. Dunn pays their downpayment. He received the Giant Steps Award in civic leadership from President Clinton for the program.
  • DID YOU KNOW: Mother Betty Smothers, a former Baton Rouge police officer, was killed in 1993 while doing her off-duty job as a security guard. Since her death, Dunn has assumed the parenting duties of his five brothers and sisters.

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