Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker has spoken of his grief and anger over the death of his second cousin Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by two white men in February.
Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael have been arrested and charged over the death of 25-year-old Arbery who was jogging through a quiet suburban street in Georgia when he was killed. The arrests were made after footage of Arbery’s death circulated on social media, and the killing has raised questions over racial injustice in the United States. The police did not initially conduct a thorough investigation into the death of Arbery, who was African American.
Walker told ESPN he had watched the video “over 100 times” trying to make sense of the killing. He said each viewing left him more “pissed off”.
“Man, he did not deserve that,” Walker said. “He did not deserve that. And, you know, God has a plan for everybody, man, but, you know, it’s tough. It is. That’s why I watched it so many times. I couldn’t grasp it. It’s such a gruesome video, you want to know why.”
Walker said he and his family wanted to see those responsible for his cousin’s death to be treated appropriately. “We want justice for Ahmaud,” Walker said. “We want the proper justice.”
Walker and Arbery grew up together and lived across from each other in high school. Walker said they competed against each other in video games and also played together on the Brunswick High School football team. Walker said his cousin “was slow as molasses, but he would hit you” on the field.
Arbery was one year older than the 25-year-old Walker, who said his cousin was liked by everyone he met. “He was a beautiful soul,” Walker said. “He wasn’t a hateful person. He was not. I can’t name one person he had a beef with growing up. Everybody loved Ahmaud because he was just a clown, a funny guy.”
The cousins kept in touch after Walker left to play college football and then went to the NFL. He said they had last seen each other when Walker returned home in February to celebrate his birthday. He said Arbery had told him he was proud of him for making it to the NFL.
“It gives me mixed emotions, and the reason why I say that is because it’s sad because that’s the last memory I have of him, but it’s a good memory because he was applauding me and was telling me to keep moving forward and keep doing me, you know what I’m saying,” Walker said. “Keep balling out on that field.”
Last week, members of the NFL Players Coalition sent a letter to the US Department of Justice calling for an thorough investigation into Arbery’s death.