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Tennis star Naomi Osaka was played video messages from the parents of Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin during a post-match interview on Tuesday.
Osaka honored the fallen Black men by displaying their names on her face masks during the US Open.
Trayvon Martin was unarmed when neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman killed him in Florida in 2012.
“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask,” Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, said in the message. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well, continue to kick butt at the US Open.”
Ahmaud Arbery was fatally shot after being chased by armed white men in Georgia in February.
Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery Sr. also had a message of appreciation for the no.4 seed: “Thank you for the support on my family and God bless you for what you’re doing and you’re supporting our family with my son. And my family really, really appreciates that and God bless you.”
Osama said she was moved by the messages of thanks. “I don’t know. I feel like I’m a vessel, at this point, and in order to spread awareness and, hopefully, it’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can, you know, help with anything that they need.”
She continued, “For me, it’s a bit surreal. It’s extremely touching that they would feel touched by what I’m doing. For me, I feel like what I’ve doing is nothing. It’s a speck of what I could be doing,” Osaka said. “It was really emotional. … I’m really grateful, and I’m really humbled.”