Detroit Lions' Tracy Walker: 'Sigh of relief' for guilty verdicts in trial for murder of cousin Ahmaud Arbery

ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- A day before the Detroit Lions' Thanksgiving Day game, safety Tracy Walker had a reason to celebrate.

So he placed a call to his folks back home on Nov. 24.

Following a 13-day trial at Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Georgia, Walker said he felt excitement when jurors convicted the three white men of murder for their roles in the killing of his cousin Ahmaud Arbery.

"I called everybody back at home. I know it was a party in my hometown. I ain't gonna lie to you, it was a great day for me. It's a sigh of relief," Walker said. "It's sad that we had to wait this long for actions to take place, but at the end of the day, we've got to control what we can control and we're happy with the verdict. At the end of the day, we're going to keep moving forward and keep on going."

Travis McMichael, his father, Greg McMichael, and their neighbor William "Roddie" Bryan all face life sentences of life in prison for their roles in Arbery's death.

Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was shot and killed while jogging in broad daylight in the Satilla Shores neighborhood, near Brunswick, in February 2020.

"My cousin, unfortunately, he's not gonna be able to come back, but at the end of the day, there's more people like my cousin that are out there that are still having these problems," Walker said. "That still have to face the problems of being subjected because of their color or being looked at and looked down on because of their color and it's sad to say, but that's something that I can promote.

"My cousin is just an outlook on it and something that I can speak on from personal experience, but at the end of the day it's a whole of Black people, it's a whole lot of colored people, it's a whole lot of Arabian, Mexican, Hispanic, you name it," he added. "It's a whole lot of people that are going through racial subjection so at the end of the day, that's what I'm promoting is to treat everybody equally."

When the Lions host the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Walker will continue to honor his second cousin, who played football with him at Brunswick High School.

He will break out a pair of customized cleats featuring Arbery's face with the messages "#IRunWithMaud" and "Black Lives Matter," which will later be donated to the Black Lives Matter organization on behalf of the NFL's "My Cause, My Cleats" campaign.

The cleats were designed by Marcus Rivero, who runs a Miami-based business called Soles by Sir. He has worked with many NFL players.

"I just felt that was another way for me to continue to push out his name and continue to basically just represent him and everything he stood for," Walker said.

Walker described his family as being extremely happy with the conviction because justice was rightfully served.

"I'm a firm believer that they got what they deserve," Walker said.

Walker hopes the Arbery verdict can help the next generation of Black people.

"It gives us hope that we're not considered trash," Walker said. "Because you know, like I know, and it's hard to say this but as a Black person you definitely understand what I'm saying. When we get pulled over, we're scared that we could lose our life or better yet, we're going to jail just off the top of our head, no matter if we're at a red light or with a light out, we ran the stop sign, no matter what the case may be. As a Black male, getting pulled over by the police or stopped by anybody, it's a problem, so I just feel like it gives us hope and more confidence for sure."