Detroit Lions S Tracy Walker to honor slain cousin Ahmaud Arbery with new cleats

Detroit Free Press

Relief.

That’s what Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker felt when he heard three men were found guilty of murdering his cousin, Ahmaud Arbery, in a trial that concluded last week.

“I ain’t going to lie to you, it was a great day for me,” Walker said Wednesday. “Like I said, it’s a sigh of relief. It’s sad that we had to wait this long for actions to take place, but at the end of the day, we got to control what we can control and we’re happy with the verdict so at the end of the day we’re going to keep moving forward and keep on going.”

Arbery was killed Feb. 23, 2020, when three Georgia saw him running through their neighborhood and pursued him after wrongfully suspecting he committed a crime.

Walker played with a heavy heart last season and is honoring his cousin as part of the NFL’s “My Cleats, My Cause” program this week.

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Walker will wear cleats painted blue, red and black, with Arbery’s face painted on the ankle of his right shoe alongside the hashtag, “#IRunWithMaud,” and the message, “Black Lives Matter,” on the other.

He plans to auction off his cleats after the game to raise money for the Black Lives Matter charity.

“I just thought that was another way of me continue to push out his name and continue to basically just represent him and everything he stood for,” Walker said. “That’s kind of what the whole plot and the whole theme of my cleats were. They have Black Lives Matter. They’re self-explanatory. Like I said, I know everybody says all lives matter, but in that situation I want to represent my cousin.”

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Walker said he was nervous waiting for the verdict after closing arguments last week.

Once the verdict was returned, he said, “I know it was a party back in my hometown.”

“My cousin, unfortunately, like you said, he’s not going to be able to come back but at the end of the day, there’s more people like my cousin that are out there that still have these problems and that still have to face the problems of being, how can I say this, subjected because of their color, or being looked at and looked down on because of their color,” Walker said. “And it’s sad to say, but at the end of the day, that’s something that I’m trying to (change).

“Like I said, my cousin is… something that I can personally speak on from personal experience. But at the end of the day, it’s a whole lot of Black people, there’s a whole lot of colored people, there’s a whole lot Arabian, Mexicans, Hispanic, you name it. There’s a whole lot of people that’s going through, how do I say this, racial (injustice). So at the end of the day, that’s what I’m promoting. I’m just trying to promote, man, treat everybody equally, see everybody, love everybody for who they is and not the color of their skin, but who they is as a person.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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