Georgia safety Bacarri Rambo (18) of Donalsonville came up huge for the Bulldogs’ defense so many times this season during their 10-game winning streak, but none more than during their win against Ole Miss on Sept. 24 when he recorded a career-high two picks. (University of Georgia/Special to The Herald)
ATHENS — Bacarri Rambo’s junior season at Georgia has been nothing short of spectacular.
Even if it’s been trying at times.
The former Seminole County star, who leads the Bulldogs and the SEC with seven interceptions, was named to the all-conference First Team on Monday, along with UGA linebacker Jarvis Jones on defense and Cordy Glenn (OL), Orson Charles (TE) and Isaiah Crowell (RB, Freshman of the Year) on offense.
But while the honor is one of the bright spots in Rambo’s breakout season, there’s been some dark ones, too.
In an ESPN.com article published last Friday — the day before the SEC Championship game against LSU — nationally renowned writer Mark Schlabach detailed Rambo’s amazing season on the field, as well as one heck of a trying situation off of it that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
You see, Rambo and his longtime girlfriend, LaTori Williams, were expecting their first child Oct. 1 — a boy who the couple planned to name Braylin, according to the article. But Rambo and Williams found out Sept. 21 that Braylin had stopped receiving oxygen just 10 days before he was to be delivered, and as a result would be stillborn.
“I have some moments where I just sit and cry,” Rambo told ESPN. “I have some moments where I sit and smile because I know he’s in a better place.”
As a way to pay tribute to the son he’d never get a chance to meet, Rambo decided to play that weekend against Ole Miss just three days later on Sept. 24, writing the No. 21 on each of his cleats as a way to honor Braylin and the day of the month on which he died.
At least for Georgia, the decision paid off; Rambo had two interceptions in that game, marking his career high and briefly making him No. 1 in the nation in picks. He has since moved to a tie for second, while he’s currently third on the team in total tackles with 52.
But the pain carried on after that game, and is still there now.
“I have my ups and have my downs,” Rambo told ESPN. “I think about him all the time.”
Rambo’s father, Danny — who coached his son at every level before sending him off to college — told ESPN that Bacarri, 22, handled the adversity as well as can be expected.
“It’s a reminder to him that you’ve got to enjoy life to the fullest,” Danny told ESPN. “It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young; life can end. He prays before every game and after each game. I told him his son is looking down on him. I told him to always do his best because his son is in heaven cheering for him.”
Danny then added that even after such an unspeakable tragedy, it may have brought the duo closer.
“He said, ‘Daddy, I’m going to raise my son the way you raised me,’ ” Danny Rambo told ESPN of his son’s preparations to become a first-time father. “It made me proud because I felt like I’d done something right. He asked me to help him guide his son the way I guided him. Of course, it never happened. I think that’s what hurt him so bad because he didn’t get a chance to do the things he said he was going to do as a father.”
Bacarri Rambo had five tackles in Saturday’s SEC Championship game, which ended in a 42-10 loss. But he played, just as he has since that fateful day on Sept. 21, with an entirely new purpose.
“It made me take life more serious because there’s no telling when you can leave this earth,” Rambo told ESPN. “I think it broke down life for me.
“(Now) I’m out there playing for him.”
Albany Herald sports editor Danny Aller contributed to this report