Deshaun Watson Grew Up In a House Gifted to His Family By Ex-NFL Star Warrick Dunn

An important stop on Watson's journey, which culminated in a national title last night

Last night, Deshaun Watson exorcised his Alabama demon, and put up video game stats en route to a comeback victory over Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide in a national championship rematch, including a go-ahead, game-winning touchdown with 1 second left on the clock. He’ll likely be picked in the first round of April’s NFL Draft, and be on top to make millions of dollars as a high-profile rookie.

It wasn’t always like this though. At one point, Watson and his family relied on Habitats for Humanity for shelter and sustenance. And ex-NFL star Warrick Dunn made it happen for a young Deshaun Watson and his family 11 years ago.

Dunn, who played in the NFL from 1997 to 2008, renovates houses into homes for needy, low-income families through his charity to this day, was handed a file 11 years ago marked “Watson,” per this 2015 ESPN story on his inextricable link to Watson’s meteoric rise.

This week, Dunn shuffled through his notes to find details of a welcome ceremony he remembers only vaguely. The file marked “Watson” tells the story of a woman who, like his own mother, was struggling to raise a family and simply needed a helping hand. It includes pictures of the little boy in the dark jeans and black sweatshirt, grinning nervously at the sight of an NFL player. That boy would grow up to become a Heisman Trophy candidate, hoping to share those same gifts with others. It’s what Dunn calls “the trickle-down effect” of charity.

At the time, Dunn was enjoying his 5th year with Atlanta, and his 3rd consecutive 1,000-rushing yard season as the Falcons’ star running back, while Watson and his family were in search of stability, and a little luck, as Watson’s mother fought earnestly to give her three boys the life they deserved. Even back then, however, Deshaun was “the young kid with the big arm” in his circle. In the grand scheme of things though, Dunn was the star of the situation: the NFL Pro Bowl star with the big heart and generous wallet. That day, the narrative was considered only in Dunn’s context.

Back-to-back national championship appearances (and one victory) later, it’s now clear that two stars collided the day Dunn handed Watson’s mother the keys to a fully refurbished house. And one of them was the young kid in the black sweatshirt.


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