This Friday, May 8 would’ve marked Ahmaud Arbery‘s 26th birthday.
And though he’s no longer with them, the Arbery family is finding comfort in the fact that Georgia state authorities arrested suspects Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis, 34, just the day before.
For months, the family had been holding out hope that the two men would be arrested for allegedly shooting Ahmaud, an unarmed man who was jogging through the Satilla Shores neighborhood, on Feb. 23. Their pleas for help were finally answered when a video of the alleged encounter was leaked to the public.
The footage of the shooting sparked an outcry from people across the country, including Taylor Swift, Gabrielle Union and more.
Now, Ahmaud’s cousin Tracy Walker, a safety for the Detroit Lions, is sharing what the outpouring of support means to him and his family. He exclusively tells E! News, “It’s amazing to have that much support, have that many people get behind one simple cause, and that’s justice…That’s all we could ask for.”
“It’s crazy that a man was out there jogging by himself and just getting exercise and he was shot down,” Walker states. “We can’t continue to kill ourselves and kill each other off. That’s not ok. We can’t continue with the violence.” He adds that his wish is for the country “learn from this” and find a way to “grow together,” so that people can feel “safer” in this world.
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Walker recalls how his cousin “was a person full of laughter and joy,” who went about life with the goal of making people smile. When Tracy would lose a football game, he knew he could rely on Ahmaud to “brighten” his day. “He would be the guy that would just turn everybody’s frown upside down by saying a simple joke.”
Without the 25-year-old around, their family’s days feel a little less jovial, according to the football player. He shares, “We’re definitely missing his presence, I mean, it’s as simple as that. He was a blessing in our lives and honestly he’s gone. We can never bring him back and that’s the sad part about it. We’ll never have him smiling on this earth down here with us.”
“But like I said, we know he’s in a better place and he’s smiling down on us and he’s going to want us to continue living our lives. That’s all we can do and we just have to continue to push forward,” Walker says.