Lions' Tracy Walker on Death of Cousin Ahmaud Arbery: 'He Did Not Deserve That'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

Detroit Lions defensive back Tracy Walker (21) plays against the Dallas Cowboys during an NFL football game in Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker opened up about the death of his second cousin, Ahmaud Arbery, in an interview with Michael Rothstein of ESPN.

"He did not deserve that," Walker said of the 25-year-old Arbery, who was shot and killed while jogging during the day in Brunswick, Georgia. "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 and Arbery were high school teammates, lifelong friends and lived across the street from each other in high school.

Video of Arbery's February death made national headlines recently when it circulated online, causing anger, hurt and a number of people, including Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, to weigh in on what Walker said he watched "no exaggeration, over 100 times."

Rothstein noted Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, were arrested but not until after the video was so widely disseminated online more than two months after Arbery's Feb. 23 death. Gregory and Travis were charged with murder and aggravated assault.

Federal prosecutors may also bring hate-crime charges against them, which could mean a separate case in federal court.

While Walker said each time he watched the video made him more "pissed off," he also took comfort knowing his final memory with his second cousin was a welcomed one. Arbery and Walker went out to celebrate the latter's 25th birthday on Feb. 1, and the former expressed how proud he was of the Lions safety.

"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. Keep balling out on that field.

"It was great in that sense. He was basically giving me motivation and pushing me forward to continue being the best person I could possibly be."

Walker said he will write Arbery's initials on his cleats and wear his T-shirts underneath his jersey when he returns to the field for the Lions.