+

Warrick Dunn knows how to keep his head down and keep moving. For 12 years, his career depended on it.

The former running back was a first round pick for the NFL in 1997, and was later named Rookie of the Year. His professional career spanned more than a decade, with three stints in the Pro Bowl and countless other awards and accolades. In his final year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he became the sixth NFL player ever to rush more than 10,000 yards.

For most athletes, that kind of resume would be enough. But for Warrick Dunn, it's just one small fraction of the story that reveals his real endurance.


Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

Dunn's mother, Betty Smothers, was murdered when he was 18 years old — leaving him as the legal guardian of his six younger siblings.

Smothers was a Baton Rouge police officer, as well as a single mother. She was off-duty and working an evening security shift — something she often did to provide for her family — when she was shot and killed by bank robbers.

"She gave me the best 18 years of my life. She was my best friend. She taught me everything about life. I lost a lot when I lost her," Dunn told USA Today in 2005.

With help from his grandmother, Dunn was able to split his time between his family and his burgeoning education and football career at Florida State University. "I was able to provide them with everything that a parent would be able to provide them with. It’s what my mom would’ve wanted," he said in a charity blog post. "I didn’t live my life for myself; I lived my life for them. I really did try to give them everything possible to give them a normal life."

Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images.

But to him, his mother's legacy was bigger than his own kin. Which is why he founded Warrick Dunn Charities in 1997.

According to the website, "Warrick Dunn Charities was created from the belief that a better future starts with hope. We are dedicated to strengthening and transforming communities through combating poverty, hunger and improving the quality of life for families and children."

Their slogan? "Improving lives. Instilling hope. Inspiring communities." 

One way that Dunn's organization achieves this is through Betty's Hope, which offers grief resources and education for children. The other is Home for the Holidays, which eases the financial burden of homeownership for economically-disadvantaged single-parent families — helping others to realize the property-owning dreams that Dunn's mother always wanted but never lived to achieve.

Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images.

As of December 2015, Home for the Holidays has provided homes for 147 families, with a goal to reach 150 by this spring.

What does that mean, exactly? It means that Dunn's organization covers the down payment on the house and also supplies families with fresh linens and a fully-stocked pantry, along with some electronics, such as a television or computer. As Dunn told The Daily Snark, "They only have to bring their clothes."

Other well-known athletes might revel in the spotlight, using their charitable actions to boost their own brand. But Dunn is content to let his actions speak for themselves.

This probably doesn't come as much of a surprise considering how seamlessly he stepped into a caretaking role at such a young point in his life.

Even at the height of his NFL career, Dunn was humble and frugal with his earnings. "I try to tell the family, 'Let's buy out of necessity,'" he said in a 2000 interview with the St. Petersburg Times. "Now, sometimes it's good to get things you don't need to be rewarded, but let's not go overboard."

Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

That's not to say that Dunn is entirely selfless — in many ways, his charity work is just a part of his own grieving process.

"This one incident has made me so hard and closed that I wanted to continue to progress and move forward," he said in a 2009 interview with ESPN, shortly after visiting one of his mother's killers in prison. 

"I know that [my mother] sacrificed her life for us — the six of us. I know she's proud. She's proud of the fact that I hadn't gone crazy. I hadn't gone down the wrong path, that I've done something positive with my life."

Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images.

Here's a recent video of the famously soft-spoken running back discussing his mother and his Home for the Holidays program.

And if you want to support Warrick Dunn Charities in their goal of giving away 150 homes this spring, you can make a donation onlineOr you can help by simply spreading the word, so that ever-humble Dunn can focus on helping hundreds of other families in need.

Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.

Noe Hernandez and Maria Carrillo, the owners of Noel Barber Shop in Anaheim, California.

Jordyn Poulter was the youngest member of the U.S. women’s volleyball team, which took home the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. She was named the best setter at the Tokyo games and has been a member of the team since 2018.

Unfortunately, according to a report from ABC 7 News, her gold medal was stolen from her car in a parking garage in Anaheim, California, on May 25.

It was taken along with her passport, which she kept in her glove compartment. While storing a gold medal in your car probably isn’t the best idea, she did it to keep it by her side while fulfilling the hectic schedule of an Olympian.

"We live this crazy life of living so many different places. So many of us play overseas, then go home, then come out here and train,” Poulter said, according to ABC 7. "So I keep the medal on me (to show) friends and family I haven't seen in a while, or just people in the community who want to see the medal. Everyone feels connected to it when they meet an Olympian, and it's such a cool thing to share with people."

Keep ReadingShow less

Hold on, Frankie! Mama's coming!

How do you explain motherhood in a nutshell? Thanks to Cait Oakley, who stopped a preying bald eagle from capturing her pet goose as she breastfed her daughter, we have it summed up in one gloriously hilarious TikTok.

The now viral video shows the family’s pet goose, Frankie, frantically squawking as it gets dragged off the porch by a bald eagle—likely another mom taking care of her own kiddos.

Wearing nothing but her husband’s boxers while holding on to her newborn, Willow, Oakley dashes out of the house and successfully comes to Frankie's rescue while yelling “hey, hey hey!”

The video’s caption revealed that the Oakleys had already lost three chickens due to hungry birds of prey, so nothing was going to stop “Mama bear” from protecting “sweet Frankie.” Not even a breastfeeding session.

Oakley told TODAY Parents, “It was just a split second reaction ...There was nowhere to put Willow down at that point.” Sometimes being a mom means feeding your child and saving your pet all at the same time.

As for how she feels about running around topless in her underwear on camera, Oakley declared, “I could have been naked and I’m like, ‘whatever, I’m feeding my baby.’”

Keep ReadingShow less