NEW YORK Brotherhood certainly is something Ronde and Tiki Barber know a lot about. So is football. But writing?
Turns out these University of Virginia graduates know something about that, too.
During the NFL's offseason, the Barber brothers wrote, with Robert Burleigh, "By My Brother's Side" (Simon & Schuster). Ronde describes the book as "one of our life lessons" and says the book fits into their overall literacy mission because their celebrity might attract some children who wouldn't normally pick up a book.
The story is about the twins growing up and playing sports in Roanoke, Va. It covers their passion, persistence and perseverance, and it emphasizes the support they've given each other as brothers and teammates.
Ronde is currently a cornerback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tiki is a running back for the New York Giants.
"We have some uniqueness about us, who we are, what we've become and we're twins," says Ronde, describing what makes them interesting characters that hopefully young readers will relate to. "We're happy to deliver the message about family and togetherness, and love between siblings."
The particular episode they've written about is a childhood bike accident that Tiki thought would sideline him for the rest of his life. Readers can see the pain in both brothers' faces in Barry Root's illustrations as Tiki falls while popping a wheelie high up on a dirt hill.
"It was pretty dramatic at the time. We thought the world revolved us and all we thought about was that he'd never play again. I'll probably never forget that moment," Ronde says during a phone interview.
The leg injury had obvious consequences for Tiki, but the accident also forced Ronde to do two things: He had to face the world for the first time without his brother, and he had to have enough confidence for both of them that Tiki someday would rejoin him in a team uniform.
Eventually, after spending many afternoons daydreaming in their bedroom while staring at posters of Michael Jordan, Walter Payton and Bo Jackson, Tiki and Ronde both found the will to nurse the injury and then get Tiki back in top form.
"It's kind of a hokey story,but it is what happened," Ronde says with a laugh.
"We have a special bond," he adds. "We appreciated each other growing and we appreciate each other now, and it's a strong relationship. … We've always stuck by each other."
Has Ronde's 7-minutes-younger brother returned the favor and helped him out of a tough situation?
Plenty of times, says Ronde. "My first year in the league (NFL), I sat out 17 of 18 games in the first season. I knew he believed in me, though, and he gave me the patience to wait it out, and he was right."
Ronde eventually was a Pro Bowl selection in 2001 and was part of Tampa's Super Bowl-winning team in 2003. Tiki was an integral part of the Giants' NFC Championship in 2000 and played in Super Bowl XXXV.
Because he has a twin, asking for help and getting another opinion is probably easier for him than most people, Ronde acknowledges, but he sees knowing one's limitations and seeking out solutions as signs of strength, not weakness.
"It's a good idea to have two perspectives on everything: It's not about good and bad, or right and wrong, but two eyes see better than one."
Now that the Barber brothers are married and have children of their own, Ronde says they don't rely only on one another but as soon as they are in the same room, it's like they never left each other's side.
One thing bringing them together these days is Verizon Reads, an umbrella organization that supports community literacy campaigns.
Both Barber brothers serve as Verizon ambassadors and both volunteer in schools in their communities.
Tiki lives in New York City with his wife, Ginny, and sons AJ and Chason, and Ronde lives in Florida with his wife, Claudia, and daughters Yammile Rose and Justyce Rosina.