Skip to main content

Samari Meets the Rolles


This article was written by Mike Donnelly from

Heritage is a fascinating subject for Samari Rolle, an 11-year NFL veteran whose ancestors come from the Exumas, a group of 365 cays and islands centrally located in the island chain of the Bahamas.

In fact, his family history means so much to him that last week, Rolle, and his father, Harry Rolle, spent two days in the Bahamas learning more about their ancestry, culture and the land his relatives have occupied. The trip, which was organized by NFL PLAYERS, took the duo on an incredible journey that was documented by a film crew for an NFL PLAYERS television show segment that will air this fall.

"To get the opportunity to come over and really learn what our last name means and where it comes from made us very excited," the Baltimore Ravens defensive back said.

When Samari and his father arrived in the Exuma islands, they were immediately greeted by a host of Rolles, including Kermit Rolle, a 72-year-old native from the Exuma town of Rolleville.

"Getting off the plane and meeting like seven Rolles before we even made it to the hotel was pretty neat," Samari Rolle said.

Kermit Rolle, an affable man possessing extensive knowledge of the Rolle history and the Exuma islands, served as their official guide. He took them to several restaurants to taste the local cuisine, organized a fishing excursion and gave in-depth tours of the historic settlements of Rolleville and Rolle Town. Throughout the trip, Kermit Rolle frequently told stories of the Rolle clan which dates back to the 1830s.

"I brought Samari up to date on the history of the islands, the early settlers, how the land is laid out and how many of the family members traveled and went into the United States," Kermit Rolle said. "I also spoke of the uniqueness of the family and last name that we have."

For Samari Rolle, one of the many highlights of the trip was the opportunity to go fishing.

Bonefishing in the clear waters of the Exuma islands is among the best in the world.

"It was the first time in my life that I had gone fishing and I ended up catching three fish," he said. "While I fished, Kermit was telling me all about the Rolle heritage and how fishing is a big part of the livelihood here still to this day."

Going from town to town, Samari Rolle quickly realized that a majority of the people living on the Exuma islands possess the surname Rolle, which dates back to a slave owner named Lord John Rolle. After slavery was abolished by Britain in 1834, the former slaves of Exuma took Lord Rolle's surname as their own.

Today, there are thousands of Rolles all over the world sharing a common link to the Exuma islands. And just like Samari, many of them have excelled in football. From Antrel Rolle of the Arizona Cardinals to star linebackers Myron Rolle of Florida State University and Brian Rolle of the Ohio State Buckeyes, the Rolles know how to make a name for themselves on the gridiron.

"Kermit told me that the Rolles are strong people and that's why there are so many successful Rolles," Samari Rolle noted. "That's why you're starting to see more and more of them."

It's not very often that an NFL player gets to discover so many new things about his heritage, especially in an exotic locale like the Bahamas. But Samari Rolle is certainly grateful he got the chance to do just that.

"It was an amazing trip," he said. "Truly an uplifting experience."

This article was written by Mike Donnelly from

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content