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Sorting out the truth in state politics

PolitiFact on 'Trayvon Martin' chain email: Yo! Photo's of rapper Game, not teenager slain

A chain email making the rounds says the pictures of Trayvon Martin you've seen in newspapers and on television are not what Martin actually looked like.

The media, the email says, is deceiving you.

And the email's author has the real photo of Martin — the 17-year-old who was shot in February by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman — to prove it.

Martin is bigger and stronger than the boy we've seen in the hoodie. He has facial hair. He's tattooed from his hands to his neck, and his right cheek has a red star tattoo inset with "LA," in the style of the Los Angeles Dodgers logo.

Reporters "don't show the up-to-date pictures of Trayvon Martin, in the media," the email says. "Now you know why. Kinda scary, ain't it?"

One problem: The picture in the email isn't Martin at all.

The man pictured is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, also known as Game, a 32-year-old rapper from Compton, Calif., near Los Angeles.

Formerly known as The Game, he earned Grammy nominations in 2006 for his collaboration with rapper 50 Cent on Hate It or Love It.

Game weighed in on the Trayvon Martin case in a March 2012 interview with MTV.com: "I'm far from racist. I'm very educated and intellectual and I understand how life works and how people of all colors exist under the sun, but it just seems like more than not black people are, I don't know, there's always some negative occurrence that goes on in our existence. This is just another reminder that stupidity still exists."

As for the right cheek tattoo, it used to be a butterfly. Game concealed it with the Dodgers logo and red star after a lot of criticism. "I'm the face of L.A., so I put L.A. on my face," he once said.

A publicist for the rapper said this picture was probably snapped during a photo shoot with XXL Magazine, though he wasn't sure when.

The email does raise one valid point: After Martin's death, a much younger picture of him provided by the family got a lot of press. But from there, the email goes way off the mark. We rate the claim Pants on Fire!

The statement

An anonymous chain email claims the media won't publish a real photo of Trayvon Martin with tattoos on his face.

The ruling

PolitiFact ruling: Pants on Fire

An anonymous email is attempting to pass off a photo of the rapper Game as the Florida teen who died. The rapper's publicist positively identified the photo as the musician, not Trayvon Martin. We rate this claim Pants on Fire!

PolitiFact on 'Trayvon Martin' chain email: Yo! Photo's of rapper Game, not teenager slain 07/29/12 [Last modified: Sunday, July 29, 2012 10:43pm]
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