TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The task of keeping this secret was no small feat.

“It was very, very hard,” Claudia Barber recalled about having to keep possibly the biggest secret of her life—the news that her husband, Rondé Barber, was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. 

Daughters Yammile and Justyce, who were both away at college at the time, didn’t know what was going on, but they knew their mom was hiding something. 

“Something was always up,” Justyce remembered about how her mom was acting during that time. “She wasn’t [her] normal, even self.” 

“I was on edge,” Claudia chimed in. 

“She was on edge with everything,” Justyce agreed. 

“She told me I had a doctor’s appointment to come home,” Yammile remembered. 

“I had to keep [the secret] for a week,” Claudia shared. “Every time [Yammile and Justyce] called, I was just really short with them and they’re like ‘What’s wrong with her?’” 

But they made it to ‘the day,’ secret intact. Rondé at home, set to watch the Manchester United game with two of his friends over. 

“It was in the middle of the game,” Claudia said. “We had the knock and I hit him on the shoulder […] I’m like, ‘You might want to get that.’” 

Yammile was able to come home for that day, but Justyce couldn’t leave school in Virginia, in-season with her lacrosse team. So Claudia spoke to her coach ahead of time, and she let Justyce take a video call mid-practice. 

“She called me over and was like, ‘Justyce, come over here!’’ Justyce recalled. “I didn’t know what was happening. Obviously, my phone wasn’t at the top of my head […] I didn’t know what to do. I just answered it and then all of this was happening.” 

And that’s when the tears of joy poured out. 

“I started crying, balling my eyes out—like messy cry,” Justyce said. “My sister gives the phone to my mom, she starts crying, gave the phone to my dad and my dad started crying as soon as he saw me crying, which was very shocking because I’ve never seen him like cry—and it was like tears of happiness. I was just like ‘Oh my [gosh]. This is such a big life-changing moment.’” 

It’s a moment that Claudia has seen in the making for 26 years since her husband first began his NFL journey.  

“He wanted to be in the Hall of Fame,” Claudia said. “To be like forever and that had always been his goal. Rondé does everything in life to the fullest. There’s no halfway, and it makes all of us very proud of him because he always does everything as hard as he can.”