Dallas Cowboys Star Offers To Pay For Funeral Expenses For Eighth-Grade Football Prodigy Killed By Stray Bullet
The shooting also left a 15-year-old girl in critical condition.
May 09, 2019 at 7:33 pm
Update (May 9, 2019): CBS News reports the Dallas Cowboys’ star running back Ezekiel Elliott has offered to cover all funeral expenses for the family of Jaylon McKenzie. The 14-year-old, who already had been strategically sought out by college recruiters, died tragically on Saturday after being hit by a stray bullet near St. Louis, Illinois.ESPN notes that Elliott, who grew up in the same city, was disheartened by the horrific news and immediately contacted McKenzie’s family to offer his condolences and support. Representatives of the Cowboys team told reporters that the 23-year-old intended to keep the wholesome gesture between he and the family.
“He's just very generous. He's got a great spirit about him,” said his coach Jason Garrett. “It doesn't surprise me one bit... He's someone that a lot of people look up to, a lot of people certainly in St. Louis and Missouri, Ohio State, all across the country.”The Illinois State Police are reportedly assisting the city of St. Louis in investigative efforts to find his killer.
Original: Jaylon McKenzie, a 14-year-old football wunderkind who already received offers to play at the University of Missouri and University of Illinois, was shot and killed at a party Saturday night. According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a 15-year-old girl also suffered injuries from the shooting.
A student at Mason-Clark Middle School in East St. Louis, McKenzie attended his school's eighth grade dance earlier that evening. His mother, Sukeena Gunner, picked him up after it concluded. He changed clothes and headed back out to meet friends around 9 p.m. at an after-prom function in Venice, Illinois. Officers responded to reports of gunfire around 11:40 p.m. Gunner revealed her son was struck by a stray bullet after a fight broke out at the event.
"It's so hard to fathom that someone took my baby from me because he dreamed so big," Gunner said to the publication. "I can just remember him coming into my room and telling my husband to call his name. 'We have a 5-6 running back, Jayyyyy-lonnnn MacKenzieeee.' And he would run into the room after his name was called."
Before his life was cut short, McKenzie was on a fast track to football stardom. In addition receiving verbal offers to play for those aforementioned schools, the eighth-grader reportedly also visited the University of Southern California with his club team about a week ago. He had dreams of playing professionally for either the Los Angeles Chargers or Los Angeles Rams, per The Daily Beast.
"He wanted to walk across the stage to accept his contract in the NFL," Gunner said to The Post-Dispatch. "He told me, 'We’re going to make it, mama; we're going to be good, mama.' That was his dream. And I believe it would have come true if someone had not taken my baby away from me."
McKenzie was a football triple-threat, playing the positions of running back, receiver and defensive back in his budding career. In November, the late phenom was one of six teens highlighted in the Sports Illustrated future issue Six Teens Who Will Rule the Future in Sports. Per the outlet, he gained notoriety last season after rushing for 1,546 yards and 21 touchdowns for his youth football team, the East St. Louis Jr. Flyers.
Police have yet to identify suspects. Individuals with tips are encouraged to call Illinois State Police Investigations Case Agent Scott Wobbe at 618-381-1467.
Now, check these out:
Do you prefer ‘The Temptations’ or ‘The Five Heartbeats’? Is Jamie Foxx in ‘Ray’ one of your favorite performances of all time? Do you watch BET all day when 'The Jacksons: An American Dream' comes on? If you can answer any of these questions, vote in our Black Music Bracket here! You won't be disappointed.