TAMPA, Fla. — The reaction said it all.

Welcome home, Deniseshia and Carter Nu’man. And this is one home sweet home for a first time home owner.

What You Need To Know

  • Warrick Dunn helped two more families get into their homes for Thanksgiving

  • His charity helps single mothers with down payments getting into a new home

  • He does it in remembrance of his mother

“This is my dream. It’s just like my dream,” Deniseshia said. “Beautiful home, it’s beautiful. My baby’s got everything. We’ve got everything in there. Oh, my god. I’m blessed.”

For this nine-year-old, there’s no place like home — especially this home.

“I’m happy we got our house,” Carter said. “And really, I couldn’t ask for more.”

That’s what Thanksgiving is all about — being grateful. And this Thanksgiving, two Tampa families will get to sit around the dinner table in their new homes surrounded by lots of love thanks to Warrick Dunn Charities. They will join the over 200 other families Dunn’s helped in the past 25 years. 

“We always have things to be thankful for. This is the season for that,” Dunn said. “We have a lot to be thankful for and I think this is just a great example of we all come together as a community.”

It takes a village. And with help from partners such as the City of Tampa’s Infill Housing Program, these single moms had already secured their homes. Dunn provided $5,000 for their down payments and Aaron’s fully furnished each home. It’s a hand up, not a handout. And something Warrick’s been doing, paying it forward for 25 years, beginning with the first families he assisted in Tampa.

“The first home, I was just like, 'Okay, I’m just handing you the keys,'" Dunn said. “And the mom was like, 'Okay, thank you.' The second mom, she picked me up and squeezed me, and I was only 170-something pounds then, so she took me out of it. But I saw her recently, a couple days ago, and she was still so thankful.” 

“Just that first day of helping those individuals, I had really no idea what that impact would be. I was just doing a program because this is something my mom wanted,” he continued.

This is all for Betty.

Two days after his 18th birthday, Dunn’s mother, Betty Smothers, a Baton Rouge police officer, was murdered while working an off-duty security job. The oldest of six, Warrick was left to raise his younger siblings and to chase his mother’s dream of home ownership. He started his Homes for the Holidays charity during his rookie season with the Bucs in 1997. 

“I just hope she would be proud that we’ve really been able to move the needle and help a lot of individuals,” he said. “And it’s really hard to speak for her. I just know that growing up, she always challenged me to be better. And to see that we’ve been able to really impact lives, I think she would be thankful for that.”

Homes number 207 and 208 join the Warrick Dunn Charities families. It’s a special group. And Dunn learned early on that he wasn’t just helping single moms purchase new homes. It is something so much bigger than that.

“It’s not just about home ownership. And it’s not just about the parents, it’s really more about the kids and their futures and trying to create a better society long term,” Dunn said. “I just want to be able to continue to wrap my arms around the communities that we’re in and really support them and help them grow and keep that stability.”