Trayvon Martin's father recalls moments with his son, 'my best friend'

Trayvon Martin with his father, Tracy Martin. (Photo from Facebook)

"Just seeing your child grow up in general is very important," Martin said. "That was real important to me."

Martin often tells this story: In 2004, Trayvon rescued him from a house fire after he fell asleep while food was cooking on the stove. Without Trayvon's help, he says, he would have died. But the close bond with Trayvon that others have described began long before that, he said.

"Trayvon has been, so to speak, my best friend since the time he could walk," Martin said.

Alicia Stanley, whom Martin married in 2005, said it was always apparent to her that Martin and Trayvon "were the best of friends."

"He is a very good father," Stanley told the Sentinel. She said she and Martin split up just weeks before Trayvon's death.

Stanley said Trayvon was like a son to her, too. Martin, she said, is "a good person; he's very kindhearted. That's the way his son was, too."

Martin is "trying to get justice for our son," Stanley said. "He's not going to rest until he gets it."

'It was my son ... dead'

Everything changed for Tracy Martin on Feb. 26 in Sanford. He and Trayvon were staying with his girlfriend, Brandy Green, in the Retreat at Twin Lakes gated community.

When Tracy Martin and Green returned home that night, he said, Trayvon wasn't there.

The elder Martin said he called his son's cellphone, but it went to voice mail. He remembered Trayvon had made plans to see a movie with a family member and thought, "Maybe they are in the movie, and they turned their phones off."

He went to sleep that night, he said, trusting his son would return. The next morning, as he grew more worried, Martin called law enforcement and asked to file a missing-persons report.

Still, "I just knew that Trayvon's going to be coming home with an excuse," he said. "It was unusual for my kid not to come home, not to be answering his phone and not to call me."

A Sanford police detective arrived. Tracy Martin showed him a photo of his son, and the detective retrieved a folder from an unmarked car.

They went inside Green's home, and the detective revealed the folder's contents, Martin said.

"They showed me a picture, and it was my son, laying on the ground dead."

jeweiner@tribune.com or 407-420-5171