In Tampa, Ronde faced a similar challenge when the Bucs took USC cornerback Brian Kelly in the second round of the '98 draft. Going into training camp that year everybody assumed Kelly was being groomed to take over the starting job—everybody but Ronde, that is. After playing in one game as a rookie, Ronde made nine starts in his second year and "became a leader by example," says Tampa Bay cornerback Donnie Abraham. "He became an incredible blitzer. He always seems to find the seam. Somehow he squeezes through 300-pound offensive linemen and makes plays. Every blitz he goes on, he thinks he's going to get to the quarterback. It's always full speed with him."
The traits that define the Barbers as football players also shape their lives away from the game. In his spare time Tiki works as a TV and radio sportscaster in New York. Ronde does the same in Tampa. Two years ago Tiki married Ginny Cha, an American of Korean and Vietnamese descent who works as a fashion publicist for clothing designer Ermenegildo Zegna. This spring Ronde married Claudia Patron, an American of Filipino descent who works in marketing for Crown Golf. At 5'7", Claudia is six inches taller than Ginny, but even the brothers can't get over the resemblance between their wives. "If you saw them passing by, they almost look alike," says Ronde.
After meeting Ginny and Claudia, the twins' best friend from childhood couldn't help but ask the obvious. "Don't you think this is a little weird?" Chris Vaughan said with a chuckle.
Tiki and Ronde swear they never were attracted to the same type of woman until they met Ginny and Claudia. Geraldine, however, recalls that the only time Tiki and Ronde fought was in high school, over a girl. "She came between them for all of 48 hours," she says. "Once they saw that she was playing them off each other they realized, My brother is far more important to me than this girl will ever be, and they broke off contact with her."
Before one brother became involved with a girl, it was an unspoken rule that she must earn the other's approval. By the time they were adults, Tiki and Ronde understood that one of them couldn't possibly love a woman who didn't get along with the other. "Whoever we chose," says Ronde, "or whoever chose us, the personalities had to mesh, because I think..."
"...if we got along, then they would get along," says Tiki.
Ronde stood as best man in Tiki's wedding; Tiki did the same for Ronde. In both cases only one man at the ceremony was as proud as the groom, and that was the groom's brother. Tiki and Ronde say they live vicariously through each other, but on occasion the attachment seems deeper than that. "At times I root so hard for Tiki that I feel I don't even care about what I'm doing," says Ronde. "He'll have an earlier game, and I could care less about my game."
"I'm the same way," Tiki says. "The exact same way."
"There are times when I say, 'What would I be without Tiki?' " says Ronde. "I don't have an answer. I mean, he is me."
"Literally and figuratively," says Tiki.