Biography of Tony Dungy, NFL Great and Inspiring Christian

Tony Dungy
Tony Dungy speaks at the All Star Breakfast held by the National Basketball Retired Players Association at the Renaissance Charlotte Suites Hotel on February 16, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

John McCoy / Contributor / Getty Images

Tony Dungy is a former professional American football player and retired head coach for the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. During his seven years leading the Colts, he became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl. He was also one of the most respected and popular NFL coaches in the league. Colleagues and friends consider him to be a family man of great faith and Christian character.

Tony Dungy

  • Full Name: Anthony Kevin Dungy
  • Known For: Former professional American football player and retired NFL head coach for the Indianapolis Colts (2002-2008) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996-2001). First African American head coach to win the Super Bowl.
  • Born: October 6, 1955, in Jackson, Michigan
  • Parents: Wilbur Dungy (1926–2004) and Cleomae Dungy (1920–2002)
  • Spouse: Lauren Harris Dungy
  • Children: Ten children: seven adopted, and three biological children. Three daughters (Tiara, Jade, and Jaela) and seven sons (James, Eric, Jordan, Justin, Jason, Jalen, Jaden).
  • Published Works: Quiet Strength (2007); You Can Do It (2008); Uncommon (2009); The Mentor Leader (2010); You Can Be a Friend (2011); The Soul of a Team (2019).
  • Notable Quote: “The secret to success is good leadership, and good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better.”

Early Life

Dungy was born and raised in Jackson, Michigan. His parents, both educators, raised Dungy and his three siblings to appreciate the value of gaining a good education.

Besides excelling in basketball, football, and track in school, Dungy was an outstanding student. With a full football scholarship, he attended the University of Minnesota and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

NFL Career

While in college at the University of Minnesota, Dungy led the team as starting quarterback. From there, he went on to play converted safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1977 to 1978, leading the team in interceptions during its 1978 Super Bowl-winning season. In 1979, Dungy was traded to the San Francisco 49'ers.

Tony Dungy at NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony
Tony Dungy, former NFL head coach, poses next to his bronze bust during the NFL Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at the Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Canton, Ohio. Joe Robbins / Getty Images

Dungy kicked off his coaching career in 1980, as the defensive backs coach at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. In 1981, at age 25, Dungy became the assistant coach for the Steelers and the youngest assistant coach in NFL history. Three years later, he was promoted to defensive coordinator.

Dungy then moved to the Kansas City Chiefs as defensive backs coach from 1989 to 1991 and defensive coordinator from 1992 to 1995 with the Minnesota Vikings.

In 1996, Dungy scored his first head coaching position with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He helped rebuild the losing franchise into a regular playoff contender and remained head coach until 2001 when he was fired by the team for repeated losses. 

Dungy did not stay inactive for long. In January 2002, he was hired as head coach for the Indianapolis Colts. During his seven years leading the Colts, he became the first African American coach to win a Super Bowl (2007). He also established an NFL record by becoming the first head coach to take his teams to the playoffs for ten consecutive years.

In January 2009, Dungy announced his retirement from the Colts, ending a 31-year NFL career.

Faith and Family

Faith and family have always been important to Dungy. He is a committed evangelical Christian, active in a number of charitable organizations including All Pro Dad, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, The Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and the Prison Crusade Ministry. 

Lauren and Tony Dungy
Lauren and Tony Dungy visit SiriusXM Studios on April 16, 2019 in New York City. Santiago Felipe / Getty Images

Dungy believes that being a father is the most important work of his life. He learned from his own dad that being a good father takes commitment and compassion. He and his wife Lauren have ten children including three biological and seven adopted. They have three daughters (Tiara, Jade, and Jaela) and seven sons (James, Eric, Jordan, Justin, Jason, Jalen, Jaden). 

On December 22, 2005, just three days before Christmas, tragedy struck the family when their son James was found dead at age 18 at his Tampa Bay area apartment. The death was ruled a suicide.

After that personal heartache, a ministry to the grief-stricken was birthed for Dungy. He said, "I've talked to hundreds of parents who have lost kids over the years. It's never something you want to do but if I can help one person." As a best-selling author, motivational speaker, and spokesperson for All Pro Dad, Dungy has helped multitudes with his message of hope and faith.

Awards and Accomplishments

  • 1997 - Maxwell Football Club named Dungy Professional Coach of the Year.
  • 2007 - Tony Dungy became the first African American to coach a winning Super Bowl (XLI) team.
  • Dungy published his first book, Quiet Strength, in 2007. Since then he has authored and co-authored a number of children's books and adult self-help books including Quiet Strength, Uncommon, The Mentor Leader, and Uncommon Marriage.
  • 2016 - Dungy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
  • 2018 - Dungy was inducted into the Buccaneers Ring of Honor.
  • National Spokesman for All Pro Dad.
  • Studio Analyst for NBC’s Football Night in America.

Sources

  • "Family success proves dividends of Tony Dungy's haul of fame." https://www.tampabay.com/sports/football/bucs/family-success-proves-dividends-of-tony-dungys-haul-of-fame/2287434/.
  • "Tony Dungy’s Family, Surviving Suicide." https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/tony-dungys-family-surviving-suicide/