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Naomi Osaka Advances to US Open Semi-Final, Receives Thank You Message From Ahmaud Arbery’s Father, Trayvon Martin’s Mother

Naomi Osaka won her US Open quarterfinal match on Tuesday night against Shelby Rogers. After the match, ESPN showed Osaka a video message from the parents of murdered Black men Trayvon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery, according to CNN.

Arbery, 25, was fatally shot while he was jogging in February in Georgia by two white men who believed he was a criminal. Martin, 17, was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in 2012 as he walked home from a convenience store.

Osaka has been wearing face masks with the names of murdered Black people whose deaths have brought attention to racial justice issues. She has worn masks for Arbery, Martin, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The parents of Martin and Arbery sent video messages to thank Osaka for her advocacy.

“I just want to say thank you to Naomi Osaka for representing Trayvon Martin on your customized mask and also for Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor,” Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, said in a video message played for Osaka on ESPN. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Continue to do well. Continue to kick butt at the US Open.”

Arbery’s father, Marcus Arbery, Sr., thanked Osaka in a separate message.

“God bless you for what you’re doing and you supporting our family with my son. My family really, really appreciates that, and God bless you,” he said.

The messages brought nearly Osaka to tears.

“It means a lot,” Osaka said after seeing the video messages. “I feel like — I don’t know. They’re so strong. I’m not sure what I would be able to do if I was in their position. I feel like I’m a vessel at this point in order to spread awareness and it’s not going to dull the pain, but hopefully I can help with anything that they need.”

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