Trayvon Martin's parents thank Barack Obama for 'beautiful tribute' to their slain son

Tracy Martin and Sybrina FultonTracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton (AP)

Slain black teenager Trayvon Martin's parents have welcomed US President Barack Obama's unexpected and unusually personal remarks on their son as "a beautiful tribute to our boy."

"We are deeply honoured and moved that President Obama took the time to speak publicly and at length about our son, Trayvon," Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton said in a statement, hours after Obama, the first black American president said the slain 17-year-old "could have been me 35 years ago."

"The President's comments give us great strength at this time. We are thankful for President Obama's and Michelle's prayers, and we ask for your prayers as well as we continue to move forward," the statement said.

A Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman last Saturday in Martin's February 26, 2012, shooting death, inciting anger among many who considered the incident racially motivated murder. Zimmerman, 29, said he opened fire on Martin in self- defence.

"We know that the death of our son Trayvon, the trial and the not guilty verdict have been deeply painful and difficult for many people. We know our family has become a conduit for people to talk about race in America and to try and talk about the difficult issues that we need to bring into the light in order to become a better people.

"What touches people is that our son, Trayvon Benjamin Martin, could have been their son. President Obama sees himself in Trayvon and identifies with him. This is a beautiful tribute to our boy," the parents said.

During a surprise appearance in the White House press room on Friday, Obama had appealed to Americans to do some soul searching over the death of Martin and the acquittal of his shooter, saying in a rare public reflection on race that the slain boy "could have been me 35 years ago."

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