Lions cornerback Justin Coleman remembers growing up alongside Ahmaud Arbery
One of the several deaths of unarmed Black people in the United States hit close to home for multiple members of the Detroit Lions.
Lions cornerback Justin Coleman talked to reporters on Wednesday about his memories of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed by three white men while jogging in Georgia. Arbery’s death sparked outrage across the country, including in the sports world.
Among those speaking out was Arbery’s second cousin, Coleman’s teammate Tracy Walker, who called for justice for Arbery and called him a “beautiful soul.”
Coleman agreed with that portrayal of Arbery, who grew up in the same Georgia town as Coleman and Walker. Coleman also found it funny that the #IrunwithMaud hashtag sprouted up given that Arbery was not a fan of running back in the day:.
From the Detroit News:
"It's funny because you know how they have 'I run with 'maud,' they have a hashtag and all that?" Coleman said. "The funny thing is when I was going to school with him, he would actually run from a workout. He did not want to work out. If anybody knew him, they would know he didn't want to work out in the weight room. Sometimes he did what he had to do, but it was like, 'Oh my God, why I got to do this?' He was always a funny person, in general. He was like a comedian. Everything he said to me made me crack and laugh. He was always, in a workout sense, he wasn't so positive. When it came to just life and handling situations, he was always a positive person. He always smiled.
"I can just remember on the football field one time. I guess he had to tackle someone and he came back on the sideline and was like, 'Man, that's a grown man out there.' It just made me laugh, in the midst of us losing a game. I don't know. I thought he always found a way to make somebody laugh and that was a great characteristic about him."
Coleman’s family was reportedly close with Arbery’s family. He reportedly has two brothers, one younger and one older, who were best friends with Arbery and his brother, while Coleman took classes with Arbery’s sister.
Coleman also noted the poignancy of Arbery’s death helping spur change across the country, given that he wondered about this purpose of his life as a younger man:
"I just remember Ahmaud saying something like he's not sure what his purpose of his life was, but I was just thinking in my head, like, dang, your purpose, basically, you know what I'm saying, was to start this movement, try to change the world," Coleman said. "Now, your life does have a purpose. Your name is being continuously talked about, every single day now."
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