TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – On Saturday, Rondé Barber will be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the ultimate achievement for an athlete that chooses the profession.
But before and after the ceremony, he will proudly be called “dad.”
Like many athletes, Barber’s playing career coincided with marriage and fatherhood. Barber’s first daughter, Yammile, was born before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl. In fact, that period was a whirlwind of life changes and happy times.
“I got married when I was 26,” Barber said. “I had a kid when I was 27, and I had a Super Bowl, all in a two-and-a-half-year period.”
Barber joked about an observation made by teammate John Lynch.
“He said, ‘Dude, you get married and have a kid, and that’s usually the worst year in your career. You shouldn’t be playing this well!’”
Barber recorded a career-high of 10 interceptions in the 2001 season after Yammile was born.
Career impact aside, Barber and his wife, Claudia, welcomed a second daughter, Justyce.
The cornerback on Sundays was the ultimate girl dad the rest of the week, encouraging his daughters to try different things.
The family’s biggest blessing was Rondé’s luck in playing his entire career with Tampa Bay. 16 years, covering much of Yammile and Justyce’s teenage years, allowed the girls to excel in their own interests.
These days, one of Barber’s passions is traveling with Claudia to watch Justyce play lacrosse for William & Mary. But there were challenges, balancing home life and football.
Barber said his first round of free agency was stressful, negotiating a deal to stay in Tampa. He credits Claudia with navigating the entire family through tough times.
“I made it through it because I have a great wife,” Ronde said. “Claudia is the reason my life is easy, simple and seamless.”
For a complete look at Barber’s career and life away from football, don’t miss “Rondé’s Road to Canton” Friday at 7:00 p.m., only on WFLA News Channel 8.