Former NFL running back Warrick Dunn is struggling to cope with the police shooting in his native Baton Rouge on Sunday morning.
Dunn, who is a minority owner of the Atlanta Falcons, suffered the loss of his mother as a result of a violent incident in the same city in 1993. Betty Smothers, a police officer from Baton Rouge, was killed in a robbery attempt, leaving an 18-year-old Dunn to raise five younger siblings.
Dunn said he’s trying to put his emotions together before sending a message about the incident in which three police officers were fatally shot and three others injured, according to Louisiana officials.
“I’m talking to some people to make sure that I [have] the right words,” Dunn told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I’m obviously emotional. My emotions are high, and I’m just trying to learn more about the situation and so forth before I actually make a bonafide statement, but I am going to say something because I just feel like I have to. I think in this case, I don’t have a choice.”
The shooting of the police officers on Sunday came less than two weeks after Alton Sterling died in a police shooting in Baton Rouge that was captured on videotape and sparked protests across the country. It also follows the shooting deaths of five Dallas police officers earlier this month.
“There is a lot of unrest in this country,” Dunn said.
SEC commissioner Greg Sankey also expressed his thoughts about the incident in Baton Rouge, home of LSU. Sankey took to Twitter to weigh in on Sunday’s police shooting.
These are difficult times in Baton Rouge, home of LSU. We pray for the families of those lost and for healing of a great city.
— Greg Sankey (@GregSankey) July 17, 2016
Dunn was drafted in 1997 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a stellar college career at Florida State. He played for five seasons with the Bucs before moving to Atlanta to play for the Falcons. He returned to Tampa in 2008 for his last NFL season as a professional player.
In his 2008 autobiography, “Running For My Life,” Dunn details his mother’s murder and talks about how his battles with depression throughout his life transformed and benefited his journey.
He has received local and national recognition for his philanthropic work off the field, including the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2005, the 2010 Heisman Humanitarian Award and the 2011 Jefferson Humanitarian Award for Public Service.