TAMPA, Fla. -- Exactly seven months ago, Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Shaquil Barrett's world came crashing down on him when his 2-year-old daughter Arrayah drowned in their family's South Tampa pool. Now, he and his wife, Jordanna, hope that their grief may prevent another family's tragedy.
Barrett will be honoring Arrayah this Sunday as part of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative, with the words "Arrayah Hope Inc." painted across one of his cleats. He and his wife, Jordanna, founded the new nonprofit to promote pool safety and provide free swim lessons to children in Florida and Colorado, where the family split their time.
"I know everybody probably always think it's just, 'It ain't going to be me; it ain't going to be my kid,' until it happens," Barrett said this week. "And then it can be you and it can be your kid. So we just got to make sure just people [are] aware and just being super precautious. We had the precautions up out there, but we just thought it wasn't going to be our kids."
Shaq Barrett's cleats honoring his late daughter Arrayah and the "Arrayah Hope Foundation" he and his wife Jordanna have started. Arrayah drowned in the family's pool last spring, and the organization wants to provide free swim lessons for families in the Tampa Bay area. pic.twitter.com/U69IrVT6VM— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) November 29, 2023
Arrayah wore swim floaties whenever she was in the water and the family had a pool gate, but it was unintentionally left open that morning on April 30 when Arrayah drowned. Barrett encouraged parents and older siblings to be vigilant at all times.
"We got the alarms on the door, but then you get a little complacent and turn the alarm off because you get tired of it ringing and stuff like that," Barrett said. "So we just got to just make sure people [are] aware and think that it can happen to them and just don't want to be that person. So always make sure you dot your I's and crossing your T's."
Drownings are the leading cause of death for children ages 1-4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with three dying every day.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says children can begin swim lessons as early as age 1. A study from the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine said swim lessons between the ages of 1 and 4 can reduce the risk of accidental drowning by 88%. Some "Baby and Me" swim programs are even offered for children as young as 3-9 months and include proper handling of babies in the water for parents and safety training.
In addition to swim lessons, Barrett suggested families look into pool gates, which provide an additional barrier for children and small pets. They're currently testing out AI pool monitoring systems, which work with home alarm systems and mobile devices, detecting movement and sending escalating notifications.
"It can sense the height of different individuals -- kids, adults -- and if somebody is by the pool, if it's a smaller kid, it instantly starts ringing an alarm off and then comes to my phone and then it rings really loud on the camera that's outside," Barrett said. "And you just go out there and see what's going on. But then they let you know if someone's in the water, if someone's around the water and if it's someone's unassisted around the water, too."
Barrett will also be honoring his family's Fifty-50 Foundation, which helps children in the foster care system.