One of the undrafted free agents the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed this offseason is only there because his mom was homeless - or, technically, living in an apartment with her daughter and three grandchildren after suffering six different car accidents that left her unable to continue her work.
"It was just because there were some things I was going through with my family," Barber told AL.com. "I don't know if anybody knows: my mom, she's homeless right now."
Barber put up 1,017 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, after barely figuring in the team's plans the prior two years. As a redshirt sophomore, he could have played for two more years, but entering the draft is likely the best monetary decision. Not only will it bring in money now, he'll also get to sign a second contract two years sooner -- and that's where the real money is. Not that a rookie regular season contract wouldn't be enough to get his mom into a home, but it does matter for players' long-term finances. The chances that he'd be drafted in the first round with two more years of work were close to non-existent.
"She really just asks me if I'm OK and how I'm doing," Barber said of his mom at the NFL scouting combine. "She never pressured me to do anything," Barber said. "I just decided to do what's best for me and my family."
Barber went undrafted, but he'll be paid for his participation in preseason, and will bring home a significant pay check if he makes a team's roster or practice squad. It's an indictment of the college football system that someone like Barber has to give up on his education and enter the NFL to scrape together a living, after effectively working for no cash compensation for three years to entertain people at a school with a massively popular football program.
Here's to hoping he'll be able to get his mom back into a home of her own sooner rather than later.