When Tommy heard former NFL coach Tony Dungy was coming to Columbia to address inmates at the Broad River Correctional complex, the 39-year-old from Rock Hill said he was the first prisoner to sign up.
He was not the last.
Dungy, who became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl, with the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, shared his motivational, Christian-based speech with about 1,750 inmates Tuesday, encouraging them to move past their previous mistakes and focus on the future.
Dungy spoke to three groups of prisoners at Broad River. His final stop at the complex was the softball field, where about 550 minimum-security inmates were treated to sunny skies, spiritual music from a Charlotte church choir, introductory remarks by Gov. Mark Sanford and a 15-minute speech from Dungy.
It was a welcome break from prison life, said Tommy, who was asked to withhold his last name by prison officials.
“It ain’t Disneyland, that’s for sure,” said Tommy, who is serving 17 years for strong-armed robbery. “By him being the first African-American coach (to win a Super Bowl), it’s uplifting. It was really nice to see him in person for a change. I enjoyed it. I think it was a positive influence.”