View Full Version : Dungy: Son was not unlike other teens

Fire Me Boy!
12-28-2005, 08:51 AM
Dungy: Son was not unlike other teens

AP Sports Writer

LUTZ, Fla. (AP) — Tony Dungy turned to his players and, speaking as a father, issued a challenge far more important than winning football games.

“You’re some great guys, you really are,” the Indianapolis Colts coach said at the funeral for his son, James, on Tuesday.

“I want to urge you to continue being who you are because our young boys in this country, they need to hear from you,” he said. “If anything, be bolder in who you are. Because our boys are getting a lot of the wrong messages about what it means to be a man in this world. About how you should act, and how you should dress, and how you should talk, and how you should treat people. They don’t always get the right message, but you guys have the right messages.”

Speaking publicly for the first time since his 18-year-old son was found dead in an apparent suicide last week, Dungy also urged more than 2,000 mourners at the teen’s funeral to not take relationships for granted.

He asked mothers and fathers to hug their children every chance they get. He implored kids to listen to their parents.

“I know if you’re 13 or 14 or 15 or 16, maybe your parents are starting to seem a little old fashioned with some of the things they’re saying. They won’t always let you do the things you want to do,” Dungy said.

“But just know, kids, that when that happens, they still love you, they still care about you very much. And those old-fashioned things will start to make sense pretty soon.”

Dungy and his wife, Lauren, buried their eldest son Tuesday following an emotional two-hour service attended NFL stars, past and present, a contingent of league officials including commissioner Paul Tagliabue and the entire Colts team.

Four other NFL head coaches — Dennis Green, Herman Edwards, Lovie Smith and Jack Del Rio — also came to pay their respects at Idlewild Baptist Church, just outside Tampa. So did University of Washington coach Ty Willingham.

Dungy spoke for nearly 20 minutes, lovingly recalling James as a “mama’s boy” with a “compassionate heart” — someone who loved to smile and have fun.

Dungy dabbed his eyes and strained to retain composure. But his message was unwavering: His son was a “sweet young boy” who struggled with many of the same issues as others his age.

“As he got a little older, like all teenagers, he was searching for who that person was inside of him. Who he was going to be. ... And like most of us, I think he went through a time as a teenager that he wasn’t sure his parents always had the best advice. He wasn’t sure that we always had his best interest at heart,” the coach said.

“My daughter Tiara said it best the other day. She said: ‘I just wish he could have made it until he was 20. Because when you’re 17 or 18, sometimes the things you guys say to us don’t always make sense. ... When I got to 20, they started making sense again.”’

Tiara, the oldest of Dungy’s five children, is 21.

Before leaving for the cemetery, Dungy made a brief statement outside the church and, on behalf of his wife, Lauren, and family, thanked friends and fans for their support.

“We loved our son very much, he loved us and we miss him terribly. James was a good young man with a compassionate heart and we were glad to have him for 18 years. ... God has him now for the rest of eternity,” he said.

Shortly before the service began, the Colts entered a side door to the main auditorium of the 5,200-seat church, filed past the open casket and took their seats to the right of the family section.

Dungy, with his right arm draped around his wife’s shoulder, led the family in and stood in front of the cherrywood casket to say a final goodbye. The couple took seats in a pew a few feet away, then watched solemnly as the lid was closed and the service began.

Dungy left the Colts last Thursday, the day his son was found, and it remains uncertain when he will return.

A preliminary autopsy report indicated the teen took his own life, but the exact cause of death won’t be released until a toxicology examination is completed in four to six weeks.

Dungy said James should be remembered as a thoughtful youngster who was intensely loyal.

“If he was your friend, you had a friend forever, under any circumstances. And I admired him for that because as teenagers that’s hard,” Dungy said.

“There’s an ‘in’ crowd and there’s an ‘out’ crowd. And there’s a lot of pressure to be in the ‘in’ crowd. But he didn’t care. If you were his friend, it really didn’t matter how anybody else looked at you.”

12-28-2005, 08:59 AM
It should be acknowledged that not every teen who's committed suicide has been short on love from their parents. Sometimes that doesn't cut it, unfortunately.

12-28-2005, 09:03 AM
To me, this just reinforces the class the Mr. Dungy has. I don't know him personally, but when I have had an occasion to see him in an interview he always seemed thoughtful and respectful. We need more MEN like him in life. To serve as a role model for children and adults.

siberian khatru
12-28-2005, 09:06 AM
I can't imagine how difficult that was for Tony. "Dabbed his eyes"? "Strained to retain his composure"? Shit, I'd be a quivering, screaming lump on the floor.

12-28-2005, 09:08 AM
I can't imagine how difficult that was for Tony. "Dabbed his eyes"? "Strained to retain his composure"? Shit, I'd be a quivering, screaming lump on the floor.

I couldn't have done it either. That is my (and I am sure most parents) biggest fear in life. Losing a child. I don't think there is anything worse than that.

12-28-2005, 09:27 AM
This is so terribly sad; words fall far short of the kind of grief the entire Dungy family must be experiencing right now, and there are no words to adequately express in the way of sincere condolences.

Mr. Kotter
12-28-2005, 09:53 AM
Good advice from a grieving parent. RIP, James Dungy. :shake:

KC Kings
12-28-2005, 12:22 PM
It should be acknowledged that not every teen who's committed suicide has been short on love from their parents. Sometimes that doesn't cut it, unfortunately.

It's a sad situation, and I am not trying to blame anybody for anything becauase rarely is suicide the answer for your problems, but how much love do you think the kid felt? Look at the hundred hour weeks coachs put in to their jobs from July-Jan. He stayed behind in Tampa when Tony took the job in Indy. I am not saying that the kid wasn't loved, but it doesn't apepar that he understood how much he was loved.