Ahmaud Arbery was a special player.
“He was one of those unforgettable football players,” his Brunswick High School football coach Jason Vaughn tells Deadspin. “Just always joking, just like a real leader on the football team, and the locker room.
“He had the biggest heart.”
And he was chiseled “like a Greek god,” says Vaughn.
Arbery played linebacker for Vaughn, with good friend Akeem Baker right by his side.
“Ahmaud was dedicated. He gave his all,” says Baker. “He always went 110 percent. He may have been undersized for his position but he does have the biggest heart.”
Ahmaud Arbery — the young man close friends called “Maud,” others “Ques,” short for Marques, his middle name — was shot and killed while out for a run by two white men back in February.
“Ahmaud was my sandlot brother, we grew up in the sandlot together. He was always there for me,” says Walker.
And while Arbery loved football, perhaps the only sport he enjoyed more was running. Both Akeem and Coach Vaughn remember how much running was a part of his life.
“When he was bored, or when he had things on his mind. He’d just go for a run,” says Baker.
He’d run the Sidney Lanier Bridge, the longest bridge in Georgia, that spans the Brunswick River often.
“Ahmaud and I, we actually used to run together,” says Baker. “That’s a good-sized bridge that a lot of folks run. We used to run the bridge like in the heat of the day.”
“I just want people to understand he was an avid runner just like any other athlete,” says Vaughn, “Everybody in the community knows him as being a runner. He’d run the neighborhood, stop and play basketball with the kids, and long after the kids get tired, Maud will keep going on his run. Morning, afternoon, night, if it was pouring down rain, Maud was going to be running.”
Says Vaughn, “That’s why so many runners relate to this story because he was going out for a run, staying in shape. And everybody in the community knew that he was a runner. That became his passion, that became his clarity in life.”
Brunswick High School in Glynn County, Ga., currently has three active NFL players in Darius Slay, Justin Coleman and Tracy Walker, Arbery’s cousin, the two played on the same high school team.
“He was a beautiful soul,” Tracy Walker told ESPN earlier this week. “He wasn’t a hateful person. He was not. I can’t name one person he had a beef with growing up. Everybody loved Ahmaud because he was just a clown, a funny guy.”
Walker plans to write Arbery’s initials on his cleats when the NFL resumes and, coincidentally, he already wears Arbery’s high school number “21.”
Why 21? Sean Taylor.
“Every time I went to his house to hang out with him, we would just watch old highlights of Sean Taylor,” says Baker. “He was in awe of every play. That was just his idol. He wore 21 in high school to ho