Alesha Martin helped raise her stepson Trayvon Martin for the last 15 years of his 17-year life.
She says she loved Trayvon like a real son, never referring to him otherwise.
Martin says the teen was always her husband Tracy’s baby boy, always together at their house.
The baby-faced teen was quiet, kind and reserved – but he had another side to him, too, she says.
“Trayvon loves to joke around. If something falls and he felt it was funny he laughed. I don’t care what it was,” says Alesha Martin, who separated from her husband recently. “And it used to make his daddy so mad. He would say, well, what’s so funny? He’d bust out laughing again. He was just a cheerful person. He really was.”
Trayvon Martin and his father were in Sanford visiting Tracy Martin’s girlfriend when the 17-year-old, a junior at Miami's Krop Senior High School, was shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, 28.
Trayvon Martin was returning from a 7-Eleven to the gated community where he was staying with his father when, according to phone calls, Zimmerman followed him and asked what he was doing there. In their ensuing confrontation Zimmerman fatally shot him in the chest, telling police he did so in self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged, and Sanford’s police chief temporarily stepped down Thursday amid mounting public criticism of his department’s handling of the case.
The violent encounter stopped short Martin’s dream of becoming an airplane mechanic. He took classes at George T. Baker Aviation School, going the extra mile, his stepmother says.
“Even when he didn’t have class, when he didn’t have to go there, he made friends with the teacher over there,” she says. “So he would go and visit these people on the weekends when he didn’t have to go.”
Martin had been suspended from school when he was killed. He was suspended for being tardy to school, a habit his stepmother says the parents of most teenagers can relate to.
Like many teens, he loved sports. His favorites were football and basketball, and he played on teams in city leagues. Though he did step out of his athletic comfort zone at least once.
His tryout for wrestling was funny because he was so tall and skinny, Alesha Martin says.
“I was like, I don’t think that’s gonna happen,” she says. “And after he got pinned a couple of times, that was enough of that.”
She laughs at the memory of the sweet skinny boy trying something new. And as suddenly as the laugh comes, it goes.
“When I was told how he got killed … he didn’t deserve that. He wasn’t supposed to go like that,” she says.
Zimmerman remains free, but “he killed our son,” she says. “We don’t have anymore Christmas. We don’t have no more Thanksgivings. We don’t have no more birthdays. We don’t have none of that.”