Public Editor

No, this is not a photo of Trayvon Martin

First of all, let me start out with something I don’t do often by airing my personal opinion: I do not think the story of the killing of Trayvon Martin is something The Kansas City Star and should spend much time on. It was an incident involving two people in Florida over a year ago. It has zero direct relevance to Kansas City. The cable news channels and the Internet are going nuts for it solely because this is one of those cases where an event serves as a proxy for people to project their feelings about hot-button issues (race relations, guns and youth violence). So be it. Let them have it, I say.

Now, getting that out of the way, I’ll note I’m hearing from multiple readers who have asked why The Star hasn’t run what a particularly idiotic chain email claims is a photo of the “real” Trayvon Martin. It depicts a man with a close-cropped beard and multiple tattoos, including prominent ones on his face and neck. The accompanying text claims that Martin “stood almost 6’2” tall” and “weighed 175 muscular pounds” when he died.

This is one of those instances where the claims are so wildly wrong that I’m almost loath to address them. The photo is of the Grammy-nominated rapper Jayceon Terrell Taylor, who goes by the stage name of The Game. He’s 33 years old, or almost twice the age Martin was when he was killed at 17. He bears no resemblance to the other verified photos of Martin, who was 5’11” and 158 pounds when he died

according to the medical examiner’s autopsy report.

(And by the way, a man of 6’2” isn’t what most people would term “muscular” at 175 pounds, either.)

Why did someone put together such a stupid email, using a photo of a well-known celebrity, in the first place? I have no idea. But I also don’t understand why anyone accepts these pieces of garbage as fact in 2013.

Please, folks — check out the excellent

before you forward


chain email purporting to reveal suppressed truth. Snopes has been checking into the veracity of Internet rumors since the mid-1990s. They know their stuff.

The media world is an extremely competitive place, and it becomes less likely every day that someone with a big audience wouldn’t break this kind of information to a wide audience if it were actually true.