When he was nine years old, Trayvon Martin saved his father’s life.
There was a grease fire in the kitchen and Tracy Martin burned his legs trying to put it out. Trayvon pulled him to safety.
It’s something Tracy Martin has thought about a lot since Trayvon was killed on February 26, 2012.
“He was there for me in my time of need and I wasn’t there for him in his time of need,” Martin told HLN’s Nancy Grace Friday.
George Zimmerman was acquitted Saturday of a second-degree murder charge in Trayvon Martin’s death. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, said he shot Martin in self-defense in a fight that started after he called police to report that the 17-year-old was acting suspicious.
When Zimmerman spotted him, Trayvon Martin was walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s house after stopping at a 7-Eleven. Tracy Martin and his girlfriend were out to dinner with a friend that night, a fact that still haunts the teen’s father today.
“Had I been there that particular moment, he would still be here with us,” Martin said.
Trayvon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, had similar thoughts on February 27, 2012, when she first learned her son was dead.
“I started thinking as a mother about what I could have done to help him, you know, what I could have done to save his life,” she said.
Her immediate reaction, however, was disbelief.
“I thought that’s impossible for him to just be dead at 17,” she said.
Fulton was driving when she got that call -- “the worst telephone call a mother can receive” -- and she needed to pull off I-95 when the reality of it started to set in. She cried and prayed and screamed.
“It felt like someone had just reached in my chest and just torn my heart right out and I was living and I was breathing without my heart,” Fulton said.
In the days that followed, she said, “I probably cried so many tears that you could probably fill two or three pools.”
Fulton described seeing Trayvon’s body for the first time at the funeral home, dressed in a white suit with a light blue tie.
“He looked like an angel…” she said. “He looked fixed up like he was going to the prom, and that’s how I want to remember him.”
She said she could still feel his presence and recalled what she said to him at that moment.
“I told him I would love him forever and the last thing I remember telling him is that I would see him again in heaven,” Fulton said.
Fulton explained that she leans heavily on her faith in God to understand what happened to her son and to get her through the difficult times.
According to Fulton, there were some facts about the case that the family learned for the first time during the trial, including the previous calls Zimmerman had made to police from the community to report suspicious activity.
Tracy Martin was critical of attempts to attack Trayvon’s character after his death and during Zimmerman’s trial.
“No matter how good you are, how bad you are, they’re going to make you out to be whatever they want you to be,” Martin said. “I think it shows where we’re at in this day in age that a kid was killed, shot in the heart with two collapsed lungs and he’s put on trial.”
“I know that Trayvon was not a confrontational person,” Fulton said, challenging suggestions by defense attorneys that he attacked Zimmerman and that evidence from his phone showed an interest in fighting.
Nearly 18 months after Trayvon’s death, his parents are still searching for answers and still mourning their loss.
“Every day, I relive that night and I’ve beaten myself up over and over again about that night,” Martin said.
“What I say to myself every night is, had George Zimmerman simply not gotten out of his car, Trayvon would still be here,” he said.
One of the six jurors from Zimmerman’s trial told CNN that she believed the defense’s contention that Zimmerman acted in self-defense and that Trayvon Martin played “a huge role” in his own death.
Zimmerman’s attorney Mark O’Mara told HLN earlier this week that he believes federal charges are unlikely and he has been surprised by the outcry against the verdict.
“When I woke up the next day to all these protests, I was really surprised, but then I realized the people who have opinions on this case aren’t going to change them no matter what, and they’re not going to change them based on the facts of the case,” O’Mara said.
Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton both said that despite the verdict, Trayvon gives them the strength to go on.
“I promised Trayvon while he was in the casket that I will continue to fight for him as long as I have life in my body,” Martin said.
“This is about a bigger picture,” Fulton said. “This is about other Trayvon Martins…The conversation now becomes 'What do we tell our kids?' Do we tell them to walk fast, do we tell them to walk slow, do we tell them to take a friend with them, or do we tell them just to stay in the house?"
“We have no clue what to tell our kids to prevent them from going to the store and not ever coming home,” she said.
Watch Nancy Grace's special 2-part interview with Trayvon Martin's parents airing Friday and Monday at 8 p.m. ET on HLN.