Weeks after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and manslaugher charges in the death of Trayvon Martin, the teen's father, Tracy, was invited to say a few words to the Florida A&M football team, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
FAMU coach Earl Holmes said he invited Martin to speak to his team and he will also participate in the pregame coin toss on Sept. 1 for the season opener against against Mississippi Valley State.
"[We] talked and I told him I'd love him to talk to the team,: Holmes told the Sentinel. "He came out and he was very, very encouraging ... [He] got a standing ovation from our guys. He talked about just persevering and told the guys to keep on pushing through the hard times. The message he shared with the kids was very positive and they were very responsive.”
Martin, Holmes added, will be an honorary captain for the team this season.
“At the end of the day, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, a parent lost a child. He can live through us and we’re going to push on for him,” Holmes added to the newspaper. "That was very, very powerful meeting and a powerful message he gave to the kids. You could see it ... the guys' eyes just lit up.”
FAMU is just the latest in high-profile athletes to lend support to Travyon Martin's family. Numerous Miami Heat players donned hoodies similar to the one the teen was wearing when he was shot.
Since his death, Martin's parents created the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Its mission, according to the foundation website, is "to advocate that crime victims and their families not be ignored in the discussions about violent crime, to increase public awareness of all forms of racial, ethnic and gender profiling, educate youth on conflict resolution techniques, and to reduce the incidences where confrontations between strangers turn deadly."
The game between Florida A&M and Mississippi Valley State should help the foundation receive some exposure. It is the annual MEAC/SWAC Challenge game in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl, and ESPN is scheduled to televise it.