Daunte Rachard Culpepper was born January 28, 1977, in Florida. His mother was serving prison time for armed robbery when she was pregnant with him. Culpepper was adopted when he was a day old and raised as one of more than 15 children of the late Emma Lewis Culpepper, according to Wikipedia.
Culpepper was a tremendous athlete growing up, and in 1994 was a finalist for Mr. Football in the state of Florida, and is considered one of the best high school football players in the state's history. He was also a star on the high school basketball team, and was about to score the winning lay-up in the state championship game when the referee blew a violation for traveling. Since that point Culpepper used the traveling signal by rolling his hands after touchdowns to celebrate.
He was also drafted in the 26th round (730th overall) by the New York Yankees in the 1995 Major League Baseball Draft but did not sign and chose to attend college at the University of Central Florida.
Major schools like the University of Florida backed off of Culpepper because of his low SAT scores. But he found a home in Central Florida. While there, he would rewrite the school's record books -- 30 of them to be exact -- and set NCAA passing records. Culpepper accomplished a feat equaled by only two others in NCAA history when he topped the 10,000-yard passing mark and the 1,000-yard rushing mark in his career. He finished his career sixth on the NCAA's all-time total offense list for all divisions with 12,459 yards and was responsible for 108 career touchdowns (84 passing). He also set an NCAA record (later broke by Texas QB Colt McCoy) with a single-season completion percentage of 73.6%.
The Minnesota Vikings took Culpepper with the No. 11 pick in the 1999 NFL Draft. Culpepper experienced success early, as well as setbacks with injuries. He made 3 Pro Bowls in his 7 seasons as a Viking. In 2004, he passed for a league-leading 4,717 yards, a Viking-record 39 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions. Watching Culpepper chuck the ball downfield to Randy Moss was a thing of beauty:
Culppeper would only start 24 games in 4 seasons with the Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders and Detroit Lions after his Vikings career. Culpepper could never stay healthy and regain that magic he once had.
He had a one-year stint in the UFL with the Sacramento Lions. He tried to come back, working out for the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, but the team didn't sign him. That was the last we have heard of Culpepper in the football world.
Culpepper's other passion has been his work with the African American Adoption Agency. He hosts an annual Daunte Culpepper AAAA Celebrity Golf Tournament fundraiser.
Happy Birthday, Daunte Culpepper.