Laurence Maroney and Terrell Owens were among those who gathered at the University of Minnesota to commemorate Barber’s legacy both on and off the square.
MINNEAPOLIS – While Marion Barber III’s life was celebrated on a football field on Wednesday, family and friends largely served a two-hour service, recalling the legacy the runner left the field.
“What I remember more is a child, a smile,” said Glen Mason, a former Gophers coach who recruited and mentored Barber after a distinguished career at Wayzata High School. “That smile on Marion Barber, that’s what I have (memories). That’s what I see every day.”
A steady stream of family and friends shared many fond memories of a star athlete whose million-dollar smile masked quiet and humble behavior.
“I’ve been laughing because I’ve watched all these posters fall (in the wind) and we all know Marion says, ‘I don’t want that attention,'” said Jesse Holley, a former Cowboys teammate. Marion always treated you like a big star. “
The celebration often became bleak, as those who spoke referred to Barber’s struggle for mental health and his unexpected death on June 1st. Police found Barber dead in his apartment in Frisco, Texas after a welfare check. The cause of death has not been reported.
“Marion was tough on the field and against himself,” said Pastor Efrem Smith. “Until he didn’t want to burden people. He didn’t even want to burden his mother and father.”
Laurence Maroney, who broke records with Barber as they shared Mi Us’s running roles, was among several former teammates who said they had a heartache when they heard of his death.
“Marion was not a teammate for me, not the man I made history with, not the man I just met in Minnesota, but really my brother,” Maroney said. “To the family … I just want to apologize to you. The reason I apologize is that even though I did everything he promised to do for me, I can’t get rid of that feeling. There’s something more I should have done “
NFL Hall of Fame Terrell Owens, who played with Barber in Dallas, also traveled to show support for the Barber family.
“I just want to express my condolences,” Owens said. “When I heard the news, it shook me. It shook my soul like everyone else.”
This support was welcomed by the Barber family, some of whom shared their memories and heartache.
“I think the hardest part for me is that my children don’t have Uncle Marion,” Dom Barber said, reading a letter he wrote to his brother. “I know this is the hardest thing for you too. But I know this, I will teach my children your spirit and your ways. They know who Uncle Marion was and who he was – with a tender heart, loving and kind. The spirit is always with them, with us. “
The commemorative money can be donated to the Marion S. Barber III Scholarship Fund of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development. According to the family, the foundation provides scholarships to students with financial needs and favors students “who support the university’s mission to create a diverse and inclusive student body, including those with underrepresented identities or who have overcome obstacles and challenges to achieve their goals.”
Donations can be made online or sent by check to UM Foundation, PO Box 860266, Minneapolis, MN 55486-0266.
If you or someone you know is facing a mental health crisis, you can get help from the following resources:
Crisis text line – text “MN” for number 741741 (standard data and text tariffs apply)
Emergency telephone number for your Minnesota county
National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), talk to someone right away
The entire Minnesota call ** CRISIS (** 274747)
Trevor project at 866-488-7386
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