The first Black coach to win a Super Bowl title remains a family man as well as a legendary coach.
Tony Dungy and his wife, Lauren, are the parents of 11 children — some their biological children and some adopted — and three foster children. They’re well qualified to talk about families and influence, the subject of their latest book, Uncommon Influence.
“We’ve been married 40 years. We have 11 children and three foster kids. So, a lot is on our plate,” Lauren said. “It is a lot to unpack, but we wanted to let everyone know that they can live a life and marriage of purpose for the Lord.”
This is the fourth book the couple has written together.
“We decided it was best if we divided the book and chapters up, and it was a great experience,” she continued. “We’ve done it before with the other three books, and we’re still talking.”
Their hope is to encourage readers, Lauren said. “Most of us think, well my life is busy, or I don’t touch that many people, who could I even talk to, but you have an impact on someone. You have an impact on your home. You have an impact where you work, and you have an impact in your community.”
The former coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Indianapolis Colts added: “When I look back growing up and all the people who touched my life, there are people no one would ever know, but they had an impact on me just taking five minutes to encourage me. So we can have an influence, and that is what this book is all about.”
They also are advocates for foster care and adoption, which is one place many families could be an influence for good.
Speaking together, they said: “Our journey with foster care began many years ago. Shortly after getting married, we were attending a church service when one of the ladies from the local agency spoke about the need for foster parents who were committed to helping support these children who were in crisis and in need of a home with stability and love. That resonated with both our hearts. We did the classes, we prayed about it, and God just made it happen.
“That was 30 years ago, but then once we settled in Tampa, we reinvestigated this and decided God is calling us back into foster care. There’s such a need. You know you hear the stories about kids just not able to live in a life of stability and love. What can we do? We had a peace about it. We have 11 children and then more kids coming into the household with foster care kids who have had challenges, but it can be done, and we love it.
“We are making a difference. We’re being blessed, but we also know we’re being obedient to what (God) has called us to do.”
Obedience and influence permeate their stories of both home and football. That’s illustrated by former players who years later reach out to Tony to say what he meant to them.
“I got a text from a player who played for me in 1996,” he said the day of the interview. “We let him go because he wasn’t following the rules. I got a text just a year ago from a former player who wanted to thank me because he learned a lesson that, in his words, he probably wouldn’t have learned otherwise, and it changed his life and helped him to be better. Those are the things you really take and thank God for giving me the influence that he’s given me.”
Now they’re telling their own stories with the hopes of encouraging others to become positive influences on those around them.
“There are so many opportunities that people can find and influence others, which is what we’re hoping they’ll do,” the coach concludes.
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