Barber of C'ville: Tiki comes to town

Tiki Barber may be most comfortable on the playing field at Giant Stadium, but he's not going to let a little public speaking rattle him. "I've spoken at a lot of events," says the UVA alum who delivered the keynote address to several thousand people at UVA's valediction ceremony on Saturday, May 15.

That's not to say he took the task lightly. "There's been nothing," he admits, "of this magnitude."

Barber, whose presentation covered the five questions of reading comprehension– who, what, when, where, and why– and "how they pertain to these students' lives now," says he never writes a speech.

"I just write an outline," he explains, "and it just flows for me." His speech on Saturday had particular meaning for him, he says, because it was a homecoming.

A 1997 graduate with a degree in Information Systems Management (he's a self-described "computer geek"), Barber and his identical twin, Ronde, were UVA stars in the mid-'90s under head coach George Welsh. Tiki– a running back who still holds UVA's all-time rushing record with 3,389 yards– was drafted in 1997 by the New York Giants in the second round. (Ronde, a cornerback and ACC rookie of the year, wound up drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third round that same year.)

Barry Parkhill, UVA's associate director of athletics for development and a former Cavalier and pro-basketball star, says both Barbers shine– on the field and off.

"Tiki and Ronde," he says, "are two of the classiest people I know."

These days the twins, who shared a room– and later an apartment– for 21 years, don't see each other often.

"Maybe two or three times a year," Barber explains. But they do occasionally get to meet on field, as they did this past season for Monday Night Football. How'd that go?

"He won," laughs Barber, "so that's all that matters."

Lately, Barber's fans have had a chance to see their star on television sans helmet.

The twins starred in a national Visa ad, and Tiki appeared with a fellow teammate on this season's first episode of The Bachelor, which stars Giants' back-up quarterback and all-around handsome guy Jesse Palmer. Barber served as the bachelor's buddy and, shown pictures of Palmer's potential mates, Barber memorably selected candidate "Trish," who quickly became that show's villain. Barber says he took some heat for that one. "Everyone asked, 'How'd you pick the psycho?' " he laughs.

Barber made a better choice for himself, marrying his college sweetheart, Ginny, whom he met during his second– and her first– year at UVA. The couple, who have two sons, 22 months and eight weeks, celebrated their fifth anniversary on Saturday, the day of his UVA speech. Barber cut his visit short to take his wife, who also acts as his manager, out for dinner in Northern Virginia.

But though it didn't last long, Barber enjoyed his visit to town.

"I live in a concrete jungle," he says of his Manhattan home. "Whenever I come to Charlottesville, it makes me appreciate the beauty and tradition of it."

Age: 29

What do you like best about Charlottesville? The historic atmosphere and the eye-pleasing landscape

What do you like least about Charlottesville? Traffic at Foxfield

Favorite hangout in Charlottesville? The [Aberdeen] Barn

Most overrated virtue? Patience ("Things may come to those who wait. But only the things left by those who hustle"– Abe Lincoln)

What would people be surprised to know about you? I'm a computer geek.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My receding hairline! I at least would like the option to grow a 'fro.

What accomplishment are you proudest of? Being the Giants all-time, all-purpose yardage leader

What do people find most annoying about you? The fact that I smile at everything

Whom do you admire? Colin Powell

Favorite book? Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose

What subject causes you to rant? Media cynicism

What thrills you about life in the 21st century? Technological revolutions in all areas of life

What creeps you out about life in the 21st century? Out of control technology. The explosion of the Internet– there will soon be fully wired houses connected to a server or mainframe that runs everything from the VCR to the porch light. Individual privacy is jeopardized... think Big Brother/Patriot Act.

What do you drive? For me: Maserati Cambio Corsa Coupe. For family: Ford Expedition

What's in your car CD player right now? Santana's Supernatural

What's your next journey? Poetic: Life after the NFL (still a few years down the road). Realistic: Palm Beach with two kids

What's the most trouble you've ever gotten in? Throwing rocks at cars when I was 10 and getting caught by a cop

What do you regret? Not saying goodbye to a good friend when I had the chance

Favorite comfort food? Macaroni and cheese

What's always in your refrigerator? Red Stripe

Must-see TV? 24

 Favorite cartoon? SpongeBob Squarepants

Describe a perfect day. Sitting on a beach in Aguilla with the family nearby and not a care in the world

Walter Mitty fantasy? Naval aviator

Who'd play you in the movie? My twin, Ronde

Most embarrassing moment? Selectively forgotten

Best advice you ever got? Never take your eye off of your goal; if you do, all you'll see is obstacles.

Favorite bumper sticker? "My son/daughter is an honor student at..."

Tiki Barber