Tony Dungy and his family. | Source: Facebook.com/TonyDungy
Iconic former NFL player and coach Tony Dungy is best known for his incredible dual career, but what really defines him is his fatherhood: he has 11 children and welcomed 100 more.
Former NFL player and coach Tony Dungy is a two-time Superbowl champion: as a player and as a coach, but what many fans may not realize is that his greatest achievement was as a father.
Tony Dungy has 11 children, three of whom were born to him and his wife, Lauren Dungy, and eight whom they adopted – and that doesn’t include the 100 children the couple have fostered over the years.
Tony Dungy was born on October 6, 1955, in Jackson, Michigan, and it’s no surprise that he’s dedicated himself to children. His parents were teachers. His wife Lauren Dungy was also a teacher.
His mother, Cleomae Dungy, taught Shakespeare and English, and his father, Wilbur Dungy, was a science professor at Jackson College. Tony attended the University of Minnesota, where he was recognized for his athletic and academic excellence,
As a professional Tony went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants. Although his playing career was short – from 1977 to 1980 – he was to leave his mark on the sport as a coach.
But from afar, Tony greater impact was about the lives of the children he fathered, adopted, and nurtured. Tony Dungy is the national spokesperson for AllProDad, and they couldn’t have chosen a better representative.
The biological children of Tony Dungy
Tony and Lauren welcomed their three biological children, their daughter Tiara, born in 1984, and their sons James, born in 1987, and Eric, the youngest born in 1995.
Tiara followed in the footsteps of her grandparents and chose a university life. She earned a BA in Sociology from Spelman College and an MA in International Relations from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.
In 2018, she was preparing her doctorate. in Philanthropic Studies, with a minor in Business Administration at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University.
Eric is the second son, the sportsman, like his father. He, too, played college football for the University of Oregon and the University of South Florida as a wide receiver — but unlike his father, he didn’t turn pro.
Jordan suffers from a condition called congenital insensitivity to pain, which resulted in serious injuries as a child.
Eric works as Real estate agent in Tampa, Florida, he has a podcast and is very close to his parents and many siblings.
The Dungy’s second son, James, tragically died in 2005 at the age of 18. He was studying at the University of South Florida when he died, a victim of suicide. Tony said of his son:
“[James] was by far the most sensitive, the most compassionate of all our boys. Because of that, he was always looking for that person who needed help. He was always looking for the one who was suffering, the one who was alone.”
Tony Dungy and his wife adopted 8 children
Tony and Lauren married in 1982, and since then they have opened their hearts and homes to many children in need – by their count, more than 100.
Sometimes child services phone calls come in the middle of the night, asking the Dungys if they can foster a boy or a girl. Toni explained:
“We made this decision early on that when we were going to place kids in foster care, we wouldn’t say ‘no’, because we know the kids are in crisis and they need a home.”
Many sports stars are dedicated to charity and children, such as Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Serena Williams, LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo, but few take it to heart like Tony Dungy.
Tony, who once considered giving up football to care for prisoners, considers it part of his ministry as a Christian to provide children with love and safety in times of need. He said:
“They need stability. They need love. So we opened our doors to children and over 100 children came through our door.”
The Dungys adopted eight children: Jordan, Jade, Justin, Jason, Jalen, Jaden and Jaela. whose age ranged from 8 to 23 years old, in 2023.
One of Lauren and Tony’s adopted children is Jordan, who turned 21 in 2021. Tony writing about Jordan:
“He’s had his share of physical challenges, but God has blessed him in an incredible way. His heart in serving others has impacted our entire family.”
Jordan has a congenital insensitivity to pain, which led to serious injuries as a child, and the Dungys had to be extremely vigilant. Despite his challenges, Jordan is an avid Seattle Seahawks fan.
Tony and Lauren have an adopted daughter named Jade, and she expressed her love, admiration and gratitude for what Tony did for her and her siblings in a father’s day message on Twitter.
Jade is also a loving big sister and is close to her younger siblings, even taking her little sister along. Jaela on outings at Disneyland. The young woman is also a fan of music and often attends festivals.
Jason is one of the youngest of the Dungys and a dedicated student. Tony shared snaps of Jason’s school projects on Facebook and praised him for his excellence.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “help” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741, or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.