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ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions safety Tracy Walker III prepares for his first preseason game against Atlanta on Friday, but knowing justice was served for his late cousin Ahmaud Arbery this week was more important to his family.
Travis McMichael and his father, Greg McMichael — both white men — received second life sentences Monday for a federal hate crime in the shooting of Arbery, a 25-year-old black man.
Arbery, who was Walker’s former high school football teammate at Brunswick High School, was shot and killed while jogging in broad daylight in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, near Brunswick, Georgia, in February 2020.
“I’m sure glad his ass is going to prison for life,” Walker said after Wednesday’s practice. “He’s pleading for his life, me personally, I’m not one to wish death on anyone, but he should have thought about it before he killed my cousin, so in the end he’ll get what he deserves. So, good luck and good luck to him.
“We don’t hear that part, and now that we’re getting justice, I’m happy with how the outcome ended. The outcome was definitely devastating, but the outcome after everything and just the trial and the whole nine, it was amazing to see, so I’m very happy for how things went.”
Walker has continued to honor Arbery’s legacy. He wore a sticker on his helmet, commemorative T-shirts and a pair custom cleats featuring Arbery’s face with the messages “#IRunWithMaud” and “Black Lives Matter,” on behalf of the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign last season.
Walker said it was hard on the family while they waited for the verdict, but they feel better that the killers are behind bars.
“It’s sad, but we have to control what we can control,” Walker said. “We could only continue to express, continue to promote it and do what we could do to control our aspect of it, but we’re not in there in the courtroom, so from that aspect we just have to control what we can control.”