HomeSportsBarrett: Living with daughter's...

Barrett: Living with daughter’s death ‘daily battle’


Jenna LaineESPN Staff WriterJul 31, 2023, 02:29 PM ET4 Minute Read

TAMPA, Fla. — For Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaq Barrett, the grief comes in waves and some days he feels it worse than others, especially when he’s alone with his thoughts for too long — which is when football helps the most.

He misses his baby girl — his sunshine — Arrayah, his 2-year-old daughter who drowned in the family’s pool May 1, as Monday would have been the first training camp practice she’d attend with her mother, Jordanna, and her three older siblings.

“This is a daily battle. Tough battle,” said Barrett, speaking for the first time Monday since the tragedy. “Today I felt it heavier today than I did the last couple days.

“Her smile — I just miss her so much. Her energy, just like putting her to bed every night, reading stories. She just brought so much brightness and wholeness and completeness to our lives. And we most definitely have a big, big, big, big, big hole in our hearts and our lives that we won’t be able to fill …”

That smile is now permanently etched on his right forearm in a tattoo, with beams of sunlight radiating down her cheeks and soulful brown eyes that look so much like her dad’s. And she is surrounded by stars — her favorite. At night they’d read “Ten Little Night Stars,” written by Deb Gruelle and illustrated by Gabi Murphy. In it, baby animals go through their bedtime routines — from brushing their teeth to being tucked into bed — while counting the stars in the sky through the bedroom window.

“Every time we would read, she’d say be like ‘Star, star’ in just the cutest voice, and she would call the moon ‘stars’ too,” Barrett said. “But she loved her stars. And she was just … everything.”

He never imagined that tearing an Achilles in Week 8 of last year and undergoing surgery, which ended his season, could possibly have been his greatest blessing. At home, on crutches, they got to spend more time together.

“I’m not happy I got hurt, but I’m happy that I was able to spend all that extra time well from being hurt last year. So it, like, that was a hindsight, I’m looking back, I’m glad I was able to have that extra time with her so I could have more bonding time and experiences with her.”

Another blessing, one he calls “bittersweet,” is that he and Jordanna are now expecting another daughter, Allanah Ray, due in February 2024, something he admits scared him at first because of everything that had happened, but something he now believes Arrayah had a hand in.

Jordanna told him, “You can’t think like that — you’ve gotta stay strong, have faith and believe.”

“We know there’s no replacing Arrayah. There’s nothing ever in this world that can happen to replace our baby girl,” said Barrett, who said seeing Alannah’s heartbeat helped ease his mind.

“It’s never going to be the same without her,” Barrett continued. “She would’ve been the best big sister. Like, it just, it’s bittersweet. It’s bittersweet ’cause I know she’s in a better place, but I would 100% prefer her to be here with us, selfishly. It’s a lot. There’s just a lot that goes on throughout the day.

Now he hopes that their story can keep other families from experiencing their pain. They’re starting a foundation called “Arrayah Hope,” which will provide free swim lessons to children in Tampa, Florida, as 945 of the 3,572 drownings each year are children, according to the Children’s Safety Network. Most child drownings occur in the family pool, the network said, and for every child who drowns, five more are treated in emergency departments. Formal swimming lessons have been found to reduce the risk of child drownings by 88%.

Barrett said they also want to expand the program to Colorado, where Barrett attended college at Colorado State and got his start with the Denver Broncos as an undrafted free agent. He is now a proponent of artificial intelligence in pool safety cameras, which activate an alarm not only when a child is in the pool but near the pool and pool gates. The Children’s Safety Network says that four-sided isolation fences to separate a pool from the home area can reduce a child’s risk of drowning by 83%.

“We always had gates up, but we just left it open that night,” Barrett said. “We got more gates up and so we going to just talk about as much as possible about like swim lessons for other families and start AI cameras for other families.”

He’s also hoping that by being transparent in their grief, they can help other families coping with tragedy.

“[Jordanna’s] been really strong and we’ve been able to lean on each other,” Barrett said. “But we also been really weak together too. We’ve also been sharing those tough times with each other, we’ve also been crying on each other, talking to each other, having times with the kids — everybody knows that it’s OK to still talk about Arrayah, to still show our emotions for her. That’s the way we need to remember her and just bring her brightness to our lives and to other people’s lives by talking about her.”

Their children have undergone counseling. Birthdays have still been celebrated, karate lessons have continued and so have the dance recitals and fishing trips. Barrett said they’ve been incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from the Buccaneers, their local community and beyond.

“I feel like we doing the best we can in this situation,” he said. “I ain’t saying we doing perfect, but we doing I think the best we can is just, just being honest with our emotions, with each other, with our family and our friends, everybody that’s supporting us. And not like being afraid to be weak from time to time … and not even weak — it’s showing emotions.

“People have a stigma [of] being ‘weak’ as showing emotions, but that’s not weak — it’s just having like emotions and just being in the moment and expressing how you feel. So we do that and we strong together, we cry together, laugh together — like everything we do together and that’s what’s helping us stay close together and come closer together.”



Source link

Most Popular

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More from Author

Read Now

Fever select Caitlin Clark with No. 1 pick in WNBA Draft

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Eight days after completing one of the greatest collegiate basketball careers ever recorded, Caitlin Clark was selected with the No. 1 pick in Monday’s WNBA Draft by the Indiana Fever.Clark is poised to not only help the Fever return to the postseason for...

In 1998, Bollywood star killed two blackbucks. A gang still seeks revenge.

Khan has been in the crosshairs of an armed gang since 1998 for shooting two blackbucks on a recreational hunting trip.Two members of a notorious criminal gang have been arrested for firing at the home of Bollywood actor Salman Khan in apparent retaliation for the superstar’s...

14 More Games Land on PS Plus Extra, Premium Today

As always, we ran a Poll over the weekend to gather your thoughts on the line-up, and (almost) as always, one-third of you responded by saying "it's a crap selection". 26 per cent of voters were at least somewhat happy with the selection, with Dave the...

Where Biden’s billions in chipmaking money have gone — and what could be next

The White House announcement this week of up to $6.4 billion in chipmaking cash for Samsung (005930.KS) marks a move to the next phase of the Biden administration's effort to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the US.The focus so far has largely been on leading-edge logic...

WNBA expansion headed for 16 teams. Portland, Toronto and Philly are options

NEW YORK — The WNBA is looking to continue growing in the next few years. The league intends to reach 16 teams by 2028, commissioner Cathy Engelbert said before the draft, confirming The Athletic report from earlier Monday.The league announced earlier this year that the Bay...

Microsoft Makes High-Stakes Play in Tech Cold War With Emirati A.I. Deal

Microsoft on Tuesday said it would make a $1.5 billion investment in G42, an artificial intelligence giant in the United Arab Emirates, in a deal largely orchestrated by the Biden administration to box out China as Washington and Beijing battle over who will exercise technological influence...

A hockey puck hurtled toward her son’s head. A fan jumped to block it.

Just over a minute was left on the clock during a hockey game in Cleveland Thursday when a player struck the puck, sending it barreling into the stands and toward Asia Davis’s 4-year-old son. That’s when another fan jumped and extended his right arm to block...

Thailand’s Finance Ministry to lead 17 agencies in considering House report on legalizing casinos

Thailand’s Ministry of Finance has been appointed lead agency to consider a House committee study recommending the legalization of casino gaming but will work with 16 other agencies in doing so, local media reports. According to English-language outlet The Nation, the appointment was ordered by way of...

WWE RAW Results Coverage, Reactions and Highlights for April 15, 2024

It’s Monday night, and you know what that means! WWE RAW will go down tonight, and Ringside News has got you covered with live play-by-play results coverage for the April 15, 2024 episode. The start time for WWE RAW is 8:00 PM EST. Match-by-match highlights...

Coachella Weekend 1 Recap, J Balvin’s Out Of This World Coachella Set, Metro Boomin & Future Top Hot 100 | Billboard News

It’s Monday April 15th, Billboard counts down the top 10 on the Hot 100, we’re running down all the headliners and special guest performers and some notable audience members that went down at the first weekend of Coachella, J Balvin gives us a behind the scene...