MIAMI — Wearing a hoodie. Listening to music and talking on his cellphone. Picking up Skittles for his soon-to-be stepbrother. Friends say that's how they would have imagined 17-year-old Trayvon Martin on a Sunday afternoon.
Starting a fight? Possibly high on drugs and up to no good? No, friends say that description of Martin from the neighborhood crime-watch volunteer who shot and killed the unarmed black teenager doesn't match the young man they knew.
"There's no way I can believe that, because he's not a confrontational kid," said Jerome Horton, who was one of Martin's former football coaches and knew him since he was about 5. "It just wouldn't happen. That's just not that kid."
Martin was slain in the town of Sanford on Feb. 26 in a shooting that has set off a nationwide furor over race and justice. Neighborhood crime-watch captain George Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, claimed self-defense and has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are still investigating.
Since his death, Martin's name and photographs — in football jerseys, smiling alongside a baby, and staring into the camera in a gray hoodie — have been held up by civil rights leaders and at rallies stretching from Miami to New York demanding Zimmerman's arrest.
On Friday, President Barack Obama called the shooting a tragedy, vowed to get to the bottom of the case, and added: "When I think about this boy, I think about my own kids."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Friday that Martin's killing reflects "the classic struggle of our time" and said it echoes the slaying of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was murdered in 1954 while visiting Mississippi by a group of white men. No one was ever convicted, but Till's killing galvanized the civil rights movement.
Jackson said he will speak at a Sanford-area church Sunday and then attend a rally in the city Monday.
An Orlando criminal defense attorney who says he represents Zimmerson told CNN on Friday that his client isn't racist and the facts will show he acted in self-defense after a fight with the teen.
"I don't believe that George Zimmerman's a racist or that this was motivated by a dislike for African-Americans," said Craig Sonner.
Since the slaying, a portrait has emerged of Martin as a laid-back young man who loved sports, was extremely close to his father, liked to crack jokes with friends and, according to a lawyer for his family, had never been in trouble with the law.