Tony Dungy’s Life Is More Tragic Than You Think

After a successful career coaching the Buccaneers and Colts, Tony Dungy retired from the NFL in 2008. He went into broadcasting and has been part of NBC Sports’ NFL coverage for a decade now.

Anyone who sees him on TV likely thinks Dungy is a nice, affable guy who’s had a fairly easy life. But he’s faced terrible tragedy that would be hard for anyone to get over.

Tony Dungy’s NFL career

Dungy had a short, three-year playing career in the NFL that included being part of the Super Bowl XIII-winning Steelers team. Despite his fairly nondescript stint as a player, Dungy enjoyed a long, successful coaching career in the NFL.

From 1984 to 1995, he served as a defensive coordinator with the Steelers and then the Vikings. The following season, Dungy took over as the Bucs’ head coach through the 2001 season. Then, he moved to the Colts and led the franchise as head coach until his retirement.

In his 13 seasons as a head coach, Dungy compiled an overall record of 139-69 in the regular season. Although his teams were just 9-10 in the postseason, Dungy did lead the Colts to a championship in the 2006 season, beating the Bears in Super Bowl XLI.

Some of Dungy’s notable achievements include being the first black head coach to win the Super Bowl. He was also the first coach in NFL history to get wins against all 32 teams.

Dungy’s personal life and tragedy

Dungy married his wife, Lauren, in 1982, and the couple has several biological children together. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the family in 2005. That December, three days before Christmas, the Dungys’ oldest son, James, died in a Tampa-area apartment. Authorities ruled his death a suicide.

The 18-year-old’s death hit Dungy hard. He took some time off from coaching the Colts in the aftermath of the tragedy. But he returned to the sideline and led the Colts to the Super Bowl title the season following James’ suicide.

In addition to their biological kids, Dungy and his wife have seven adopted kids — most under the age of 18 — as well as one foster child. Dungy has written several books, including a 2007 memoir Quiet Strength and children’s books that encourage kids to follow their dreams/

Dungy gives back to the community

Dungy has a strong track record of giving back to the communities where he’s lived and coached. He not only adopts and fosters children, but he also encourages others to do the same. He is the national spokesman for All Pro Dad, a program whose mission is “to help you love and lead your family well.”

Dungy and All Pro Dad partner with the Indiana Department of Child Services to help raise awareness and recruit families across the state to adopt or foster kids. Dungy credits Lauren with being passionate about the cause and “knowing the need.” He says they “decided to do what [they] could to try and share a little bit about the need.”

Dungy also helped launch a similar program in Florida before setting it up in the Hoosier State. In 2007, President George W. Bush appointed Dungy to the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, which is committed to growing civic participation in the country.

The legendary NFL figure proves that hardship only strengthens one’s resolve. And many fans love him because of this.