For his entire adult life, Yondu has worn the flame patch of the Ravagers. He doesn't have to look down to know it's not there after he hands it to the little tree kid. He can feel its absence, like a missing limb.
Or maybe it's the phantom pain of a limb that was cut off years ago.
Some things you can't go back from.
He tried to walk too many lines, that's all. Broke the code and knew it. Tried to go on being a Ravager anyway. Told himself he was one.
Let a scrawny Terran kid stay on his ship even though he knew it was a bad idea, because the little bastard wormed his way into that cold empty place in his soul before Yondu knew what was happening. But he couldn't go all the way to actually be the dad the kid needed, hell no, which was why Ego could take Peter and twist him around his finger the way he'd wanted to all those years ago, like all those other dead kids.
Did a shit job of being a Ravager, shit job of being a father, and this is where it gets him: half his crew is dead, other half is gonna be dead as soon as Rocket's little tree friend gets done bringing him everything in his quarters except his spare fin, and Quill's run off and got himself in the one place in the universe where he's most likely to end up dead.
Tried to be two different things and ended up being none of ‘em.
Stakar's right. Yondu can dress like a Ravager, but that doesn't make him one.
He leaves the flame patch to burn in the real flames of his dying ship. There is no going back, only forward.