TV & Movies

Traci Johnson’s Marriage Was The Subject Of Scandal Before She Joined RHONJ

Her husband’s ex-wife was pregnant with his twins when he and Traci got together.

'RHONJ' star Traci Lynn Johnson attends the 2014 Fresh Air Fund Honoring Our American Hero at Pier S...
Monica Schipper/FilmMagic/Getty Images

Before joining The Real Housewives of New Jersey as a “friend of,” Traci Johnson was already used to her personal drama playing out in public. In 2010, she and her now-husband, former NFL star Tiki Barber, became the center of scandal after they started dating while she was a 23-year-old intern on the Today show. Not-so-coincidentally, that’s when the reality TV casting offers began rolling in as well.

Traci met Melissa Gorga through a mutual friend about three years after she and Tiki got together, and she became the subject of RHONJ casting rumors in 2015. But even before then, she and Tiki received “quite a few” reality show offers. “We said, ‘No’ to all of them,” Traci explained to Metropolis Nights, a New Jersey nightlife and entertainment magazine, in 2013, per the Daily News. “I don’t need to wake up at 10 a.m. and have to put makeup on because there's a camera crew downstairs.”

That stance is hardly the only thing that’s changed for Traci in the near-decade that’s since passed. Here’s everything to know before she makes her RHONJ debut in Season 12.

Traci’s Husband & Kids

While working as an unpaid intern at the Today show, Traci struck up a friendship with Tiki, who was working as a sports commentator on NBC following his 2006 retirement as a New York Giants running back. At the time, Tiki was married to fashion publicist Ginny Cha. However, both he and Traci have insisted that their relationship didn’t start until after he split from Ginny. “Tiki and I became romantically involved when he was separated,” Traci explained to Entertainment Tonight in August 2010. “And plenty of people who are separated have girlfriends and boyfriends.”

According to Tiki, he and Ginny split in late 2009 after a decade of marriage and two-and-a-half years of counseling, and he and Traci did not begin dating until January 2010. Even so, the pair became subject to widespread public backlash, given that Ginny was eight months pregnant with twins when Tiki filed for divorce in April 2010. “Tiki Barber dumps pregnant wife for hot blonde,” read one New York Post headline at the time.

NBC declined to renew Tiki’s contract, and Ginny gave birth to their twins in May 2010. Their divorce was finalized in July 2012. Eight days later, Tiki married Traci at the Manhattan City Clerk’s Office with only close friends and family. His twin NFL star brother, Ronde Barber, was among those in attendance.

“I have a lot more haters than I do lovers,” Traci told Metropolis Nights the following month, adding that she “was shocked by all the media attention” her relationship received. “The people who keep saying all these negative things about me don't know me at all. They just hate their life more, so it’s easy for them to hate me instead of dealing with their own problems.”

Traci and Tiki have two children together, Brooklyn, 8, and Teagan, 5. She’s also a stepmom to his four children with Ginny: sons A.J. (Atiim Kiambu Junior), 19, and Chason, 17, as well as 11-year-old twins Riley and Ella.

Traci’s Job

Traci graduated from Mount Saint Mary College in 2008 and earned a Master’s degree in broadcast journalism from New York University in 2010. In the past, she’s described herself as a philanthropist and marketing consultant. As of 2019, she was the executive director of KultureCity, a non-profit dedicated to those with sensory sensitivities, such as autism, PTSD, OCD, and ADD/ADHD. Though an unverified LinkedIn account lists KultureCity as Traci’s current employer, she no longer appears on the company’s website, nor does Tiki, who’d served with her on the KultureCity Board.

“Proud of KultureCity for earning the standing of number 4 on the 2019 Most Innovative Companies List in the Live Events category by Fast Company!” Traci posted on Instagram in February 2019. “We are making a profound impact on both industry and culture; with over 200 venues in 3 countries, we are tackling the challenging issue of social isolation for those with sensory needs.”

Traci also helped her 8-year-old daughter Brooklyn launch a non-profit called A Book For Me, which is dedicated to “giving children the opportunity to enjoy reading by providing them, their families, and schools with titles with characters that look like them.” According to the organization’s website, Brooklyn’s love of reading began to flourish after she was finally “exposed to books whose main characters looked like her.”

Traci’s Instagram

In June 2018, Traci posted that she has “no problem with the fact” that her Instagram is “99%” devoted to her daughters. Indeed, her grid is filled with photos of her girls at school, cheerleading competitions, and ballet recitals. She also never seems to miss an opportunity to share a sweet birthday tribute.

In addition, Traci regularly posts about her and Tiki’s relationship milestones and anniversaries. “9 years later and every dinner out with you still feels like a date,” she posted in July 2021. “Here is to a marriage that is all about growth, learning, acceptance and unconditional love and loyalty. There is no one better to be a life partner with than you. Thank you for 9 years of evolution, love, countless dinners at Cafe Lux and here is to a lifetime of more.”

Though she loves basketball and reality TV, Traci wrote that she doesn’t believe she’s “ever even watched an entire football game.” In a 2011 Maxim cover story, she joked that “if Tiki wants to watch football, he has to go downstairs,” and that he knows NBA star Carmelo Anthony is her favorite athlete. “We sat with him at an event, and Tiki told him, ‘She will leave me for you in a heartbeat,’” she told Maxim. “I was so embarrassed.”