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Barber, Ronde 1975–

Ronde Barber 1975


At a Glance


Ronde Barbers defensive talents helped lead his football teammates, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, to a 2003 Super Bowl victory in the National Football League (NFL). The Virginia native and twin of Tiki Barber, a running back for the New York Giants, wears the No. 20 red jersey for Tampa Bay and plays the right cornerback position. Barber was a third-round draft pick who endured a dismal rookie season on the sidelines, but within a few years his career statistics advanced rapidly in team, conference, and league standings.

The Barber twins were born a month prematurely on April 7, 1975. Their parents were living in Montgomery, Virginia, at the time, and an African friend suggested the names: Jamael Oronde means first-born son, and Atiim Kiambu translates as fiery-tempered king. The couples marriage ended in divorce just a few years after the twins were born. Their father, James J.B. Barber, had been a star running back at Virginia Tech and went on to play in the World Football League. He had little contact with his boys until much later in their lives, and did not provide financial support. Geraldine Barber was the tough-minded daughter of a U.S. Army major killed in Vietnam, and had helped raise her own siblings as a teenager.

Because they were premature, both children suffered occasional seizures until they were of kindergarten age, but they grew up to be strong and athletic despite their rough early start. Their mother made certain her sons were as focused on their schoolwork as they were on sports. She was known to bar them from team practice until their homework was completed. To make ends meet, Geraldine Barber had homework as well, taking in transcription work at home for extra money. I had to pay bills, she told Roanoke Times journalist Doug Doughty. I had to feed my kids. They ate a whole lot then. Much later, after the twins became NFL celebrities, the press seemed intrigued by the missing parents story. Neither of the Barber twins was interested in rekindling ties. I consider our family to be me, my mom and Tiki, Barber said in the Roanoke Times interview. [My father] was never a fixture in our family. We saw him once in junior high, but its been so long, I dont recall. Hes called a couple of times after games. Its definitely an awkward situation.

At Cave Spring High School in Roanoke, Barber was a solid student, honor society member, and champion hurdler who won the 55-meter national title twice. Both he and Tiki were standout athletes on the Cave

At a Glance

Born Jamael Oronde Barber on April 7, 1975, in Montgomery, VA; son of James J.B and Geral-dine (Brickhouse) Barber (a Girl Scouts executive); married Claudia; children: Yammile Rose. Education: University of Virginia, degree in commerce, 1997.

Career: Drafted by Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1997; became starting right cornerback, 1998.

Memberships: Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Awards: Earned Super Bowl XXXVII ring, 2003.

Addresses: Office c/o Tampa Bay Buccaneers, One Buccaneer pL, Tampa, FL 33607.

Spring football team, and once shared Male Athlete of the Year honors. While playing for the University of Virginia, they also shared living quarters all through school. Barber played his freshman season as a redshirt and emerged as the 1994 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Rookie of Year. Making an impressive corner-back, he ended his college career with 15 interceptions, just two short of a school record, and made the All-ACC roster three times. After earning a degree in commerce, Barber decided to give professional football a shot, although he could have played another year in college because of his 1993 redshirt status. His soon-to-be former coach also stated publicly that Barber could have used another years worth of experience.

Barber was a third-round draft pick for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and his 199798 rookie season as a cornerback was less than thrilling. Pro ball had different styles and strategies than the college game, and it took Barber a while to master the Bucs bump-and-run defense. He played in just a few games, but stunned a hostile Green Bay crowd during a January playoff game in freezing Wisconsin temperatures by making two tackles and averting a pass. The Bucs lost in the end, but Barbers confidence seemed to gain momentum, and he was tapped to replace an injured Anthony Parker as starting right cornerback for a few games in October of 1998. He soon emerged as one of the star players on the Bucs 1998 roster, ending the season with 68 tackles. Team stats were still dismalthe Bucs finished 88 in the Leaguebut the following season the team advanced to the playoffs, assisted by 77 tackles from Barber, who started in all but one of 16 games.

In 2000 Barber finished the season with a career-best 97 tackles. After his contract expired, he was a free agent for a time, but re-signed with the Bucs after they offered a six-season, $18.75 million contract. Meanwhile, brother Tiki was already a major celebrity in the New York area as a New York Giants running back, even hosting his own radio show, and both were named to People magazines 50 Most Beautiful People list in 2001. Barber played in his first Pro Bowl game that same year, and won the NFL Alumni Defensive Back of the Year honor, to cap a season record of ten interceptionsa rare occurrence in the league.

Barber was dismayed when the Bucs front office released its coach of six years, Tony Dungy, from his contract at the end of the 2001 season. He gave me my shot, Barber told Doughty in the Roanoke Times article. He drafted me; he played me. Im in the league because of him. He kind of went out on a bad note. They didnt treat him the way he deserved to be treated. Under new coach Jon Gruden, Barbers performance seemed to diminishhe made just two interceptions in the 2002 seasonbut Bucs defensive tackle Warren Sapp defended Barber. The thing that gets overlooked is that nobody threw the ball at Ronde this year because they knew how effective he was, Sapp asserted in an interview with Washington Times reporter David Elfin. Barber played in all 16 games in 2002, but added just nine yards to a career 259 total. Yet his abilities were put to the test in the last quarter of a tight playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, when Barber picked off Donovan McNabbs pass and raced 92 yards to score, noted the Knight Bidder/ Tribune News Service. According to their reporter Mike Bruton, the crowd, which was said to be so excited that the stadium was shaking, [turned] into something resembling a still photograph. As Barber told Bruton, it was my longest play ever. It was a great experience. I just remember trying to get to the end zone as fast as I could. It was a sweet silence.

Barber has said that, for him, one of the drawbacks to playing in the NFL is that it is sometimes hard to catch his brothers games. But Tiki was able to watch Rondes first Super Bowl game the following week in San Diego, when the Bucs crushed the Oakland Raiders 4821, and took their first-ever league championship. Despite a match-up that pitted him against two of the NFLs veteran receivers, Jerry Rice and Tim Brown, Barber explained in an interview with Elfin in the Washington Times that his own determination makes every game a Super Bowl-worthy match-up. I take pride in being a physical guy even though Im only 178 pounds, he told the paper. If you play with a passion, you can do anything you want. Im fearless. I treat every play like its my last one, and I want to be perfect on that play. Barber is married and has a young daughter with his wife, Claudia. He and his brother have served as best man at one anothers weddings, and even appeared together in a television commercial for Visa.



Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service, November 15, 2001; January 22, 2003.

New York Times, January 26, 2003.

Roanoke Times, August 24, 1996, p. Bl; January 15, 2000, p. C1; February 9, 2002, p. C1; January 26, 2003, p. A1.

Virginian Pilot, January 4, 1998, p. C14.

Washington Times, January 25, 2003.


Ronde Barber 20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers,,Ronde,20&bioyear=2000 (August 22, 2003).

Carol Brennan

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Barber, Ronde 1975-

Barber, Ronde 1975-


Name pronounced RON-day; born Jamael Oronde Barber, April 7, 1975, in Roanoke, VA; son of James "J.B." and Geraldine (a financial director) Barber; married; wife's name Claudia; children: Yammile Rose, Justyce Rosina. Education: University of Virginia, B.A. (marketing), 1997.


Home—Tampa, FL. Office—c/o Tampa Bay Buccaneers, One Buccaneer Pl., Tampa, FL 33607.


Professional football player and broadcaster. Played college football at University of Virginia; third-round draft pick of Tampa Bay Buccaneers in National Football League (NFL) entry draft, 1997; cornerback for Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1997—. Cohost of Sunday

Sports Extra, WFLA, 2000, 2002-03; host of The Ronde Barber Show (radio program), Tampa, FL; cohost of The Barber Shop, Sirius Satellite Radio, 2005-06.


Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Awards, Honors

Society of Professional Journalists Award, for Sunday Sports Extra; named National Football League (NFL) Alumni Defensive Back of the Year, 2001; named to NFL All-Pro team, Associated Press, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006; selected to NFL Pro Bowl, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007; inducted into Virginia High School Hall of Fame, 2006; Christopher Award, 2006, for Game Day.


(With brother, Tiki Barber, and Robert Burleigh) By My Brother's Side, illustrated by Barry Root, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Tiki Barber and Robert Burleigh) Game Day, illustrated by Barry Root, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Tiki Barber and Robert Burleigh) Teammates, illustrated by Barry Root, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (New York, NY), 2006.


For Sidelights, please see entry on Tiki Barber.

Biographical and Critical Sources


Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 41, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2004.


Black Issues Book Review, September-October, 2004, Suzanne Rust, "He Ain't Heavy," p. 60.

Booklist, September 1, 2004, Todd Morning, review of By My Brother's Side, p. 114; September 1, 2005, Ilene Cooper, review of Game Day, p. 119; September 1, 2006, Carolyn Phelan, review of Teammates, p. 116.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2006, Elizabeth Bush, review of Game Day, p. 218.

Ebony, December, 2005, review of Game Day, p. 30.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2004, review of By My Brother's Side, p. 909; September 15, 2005, review of Game Day, p. 1020.

New York Times, August 12, 1997, Bill Pennington, "The Barber Brothers Stay in Touch as Rookie Rivals with the Giants and Bucs"; November 29, 1997, Bill Pennington, "It's Barber vs. Barber When Giants Play Bucs."

Publishers Weekly, August 30, 2004, Shannon Maughan, "Double Duty," p. 54, and review of By My Brother's Side, p. 55; October 3, 2005, review of Game Day, p. 70.

Sarasota Herald Tribune, October 29, 2006, Tom Balog, "Barbers' Final Meeting?," p. C3.

School Library Journal, November, 2004, Ann M. Holcomb, review of By My Brother's Side, p. 122; January, 2006, Mary Hazelton, review of Game Day, p. 116; November, 2006, Rachel G. Payne, review of Teammates, p. 117.

Sports Illustrated, July 23, 2001, John Ed Bradley, "Play Mates," p. 52.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Web site, (July 20, 2007), "Ronde Barber."

University of Virginia Magazine Online, (spring, 2006), Ben Cramer, "The Power of Two."

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