In Memory of Ahmaud Arbery

May 23, 2020

Ahmaud Arbery was a great runner—a passionate runner in fact. According to his former high school football coach Jason Vaughn, Arbery ran all of the time, rain or shine. However, running shouldn’t be the only thing that Arbery is remembered for. 

Born on May 8, 1994, he would’ve turned 26 last Friday. Back in high school, Arbery “carried himself with effortless charm,” close friend Akeem Baker reminisces. He remembers Arbery as a kind person who would laugh at his impressions on the morning bus rides to school, and delineates the moments where they would play a football game referred to as “hot ball” together: unforgettable times with a person who was always such a pleasure to be around. Both Baker and Arbery served as linebackers for the Brunswick High School Pirates; Arbery was such an impressive football player that Baker explains he had even dreamed of playing for the NFL one day.

Ahmaud Arbery smiles at the camera in an undated family photo. Arbery was depicted as happy in real life and in the many photos taken of him. (Photo Courtesy of the Arbery family.)

Arbery was not only a great football player, but he was also an amazing friend. Following high school, Baker and Arbery stayed in touch, reconnecting every so often over a phone call in which they discussed their current experiences. Baker recalls the time where he called Arbery about the chemistry class that he was struggling with because he knew that he could rely on him for advice. “When situations get hard, you’ve just got to get hard with it. In the end, you don’t just go through it. You grow through it,” Arbery accentuated to Baker over the phone call. He was a man who prioritized supporting his friends and he encouraged their success and growth through his prominent optimistic attitude. Working at McDonald’s while Baker planned to attend college, Arbery didn’t feel any less satisfied with his lifestyle. Nevertheless, he promoted Baker’s aspirations, assuring him that he was going to “see [him] at the top.” He made everyone around him feel welcome and confident, always striving to be the best person he could be, rubbing off his positivity on everyone around him.

Shortly after high school, Arbery went to attend South Georgia Technical College to become an electrician, but ended up moving back to Brunswick. According to Baker, Arbery took on the occupation of doing landscaping work alongside his father, in addition to his other job working at a truck wash prior to the incident. 

The passing away of Arbery has left his mother, father, grandmother and two older siblings along with his other family members, friends and community devastated by the loss of a truly amazing man in their lives. 

“Ahmaud was humble. To know Ahmaud is to love Ahmaud. Ahmaud didn’t deserve to go the way he went,” states his mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones.

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