Coach brings life lessons to the field after serving sentence for deadly DUI

One mistake changed his life, but after serving seven years in prison, a football coach at Venice High School is making a comeback. 

For many, Friday’s first regular-season game is about competition and kicking off the new school year.

For Coach Joshua Hunter, it is the start of a new chapter where football and mentorship will go hand-in-hand.

“I think football is a lot like life,” Hunter told FOX 13 News.

He is ready to pass on some valuable lessons.

Back in 2009, Hunter was driving when he lost control and crashed his car, killing his close friend in the passenger seat.

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“My bad decision isn’t something that was a bad decision a long time ago. It’s a bad decision I have to live with every single day,” Hunter said. “My actions affected a lot of people.”

Hunter was convicted of DUI manslaughter and served a seven-year sentence. 

After nine years as the head coach at Braden River High School in Manatee County, he was let go and left with painful feelings of regret and sadness. But he is choosing to find new purpose and this time around, yelling out more than just plays.

“This is when they’re most impressionable. They’re starting to understand who they are they’re starting to, you know, think about the future,” he explained.

Coach Hunter is not shying away from his past. Instead, he hopes his players learn from his mistakes.

“I think the kids have really understood where I’m coming from, not just as a coach but as a teacher of life lessons,” the coach said.

This is Hunter’s first season in eight years. He says he is bringing passion and energy he is never felt before.