Trayvon Martin spent his 17th birthday, which would be his last, with his family. He ate a home-cooked meal followed by cake, opened presents that included Levis jeans, Adidas sneakers and a bottle of Issey Miyake cologne.
He would be 17 for 21 days. He died Feb. 26, a bullet in his chest, shot by a neighborhood crime watch captain patrolling a suburban gated townhouse community in Sanford, 250 miles from his home, where he had gone with his father after a school suspension. George Zimmerman, the shooter, has not been arrested, sparking a growing wave of outrage manifested in daily rallies, petitions, speeches and media scrutiny.
He had been so looking forward to going to his junior prom, and he had already started talking about all the senior activities in high school, his mother, Sybrina Fulton, 46, said in a voice hollowed and somber. He will never do any of those things.
As the nation grapples with the killing of an unarmed black teenager wearing a hoodie, his parents patiently offer the simple details of Trayvons life, painting the portrait of a typical teenager who would end up in a casket, buried in white suit with a powder blue vest.
Trayvon was 6-foot-3, 140 pounds, a former Optimist League football player with a narrow frame and a voracious appetite. He wanted to fly or fix planes, struggled in chemistry, loved sports video games and went to New York for the first time two summers ago, seeing the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and a Broadway musical, The Addams Family. He hoped to attend the University of Miami or Florida A&M University, enamored by both schools bright orange and green hues.
Also known as Slimm, he had a girlfriend and spent endless hours talking or texting on his cell phone. Other times he was quiet, listening to the soundtrack of R&B, reggae, rap and gospel music flowing through his ear buds or watching half-hour re-runs of Martin, his favorite show.
Trayvons parents his mother is a Miami-Dade government employee and his dad is a truck driver divorced in 1999 but lived near each other in Miami Gardens, working hard to raise Trayvon with family values and lift him above the statistics. They tried to make sure he was exposed to experiences beyond South Florida: skiing, snowboarding and riding snowmobiles. Mother and son went horseback riding for her birthday, 13 days after his.
Tray was a beautiful child. He was raised to have manners and be respectful. He was a teenager who still had a lot of kid in him, his father, Tracy Martin, 45, said. He still loved to go to Chuck E. Cheese with his cousins and would bake them chocolate chip cookies when he was babysitting them.
Still, Trayvon had nonviolent behavioral issues in school, and on the day he was killed, he had been suspended for 10 days from Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School in North Miami-Dade.
He was not suspended for something dealing with violence or anything like that. It wasnt a crime he committed, but he was in an unauthorized area [on school property], Martin said, declining to offer more details.
Before that, Trayvon attended Miami Carol City High School near his mothers home in Miami Gardens.
He was doing average in school, a little bit better when he was at Carol City and then I had him transferred, she said this week. I thought Krop was a better school and I wanted a different environment for him. My oldest son has graduated from there.