Jaylon McKenzie was a viral star on YouTube for his amazing football highlight videos, an 8th grader who seemed destined to make the NFL one day.
But instead, the 14-year-old boy’s parents are planning his burial after Jaylon was shot and killed at a party on Saturday night. As CNN reported, the boy was at a large party when a fight broke out. Jaylon walked outside to leave, but gunfire erupted and he was struck by a stray bullet. He was rushed to a hospital, but the Central Junior High School eighth-grader died a short time later.
A 15-year-old girl was also wounded in the shooting and had been listed in critical condition. Police have not said if they have a suspect, and details about what sparked the shooting were light as of press time on Sunday.
McKenzie had already garnered national attention, including a spot in Sports Illustrated‘s feature “Six Teens Who Will Rule The Future In Sports” when he was still just 13. The report noted that Jaylon played running back, wide receiver, and defensive back for his team and shined on the biggest stage — the NFL’s 8th Grade All-American Game in Canton, where he caught five passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns to lead his team to a victory.
The previous season, Jaylon rushed for 1,546 yards and 21 touchdowns for his youth team.
Jaylon McKenzie had started to attract the attention of college coaches, even before he entered high school. As CNN reported, he already had offers from the Big 10 and Big 12, with Illinois and Missouri already making offers.
Jaylon’s family said that he was active almost the entire year between football, basketball, and track teams, so he rarely attended parties. But he was in a quiet stretch in May, so he decided to attend the party being held Saturday night.
Jaylon was only planning on picking something up from a friend at the party, and wasn’t going to stay long, his mom said.
“They stopped by the party, not with any intentions to staying long,” his mother, Sukeena Gunner, told CNN.
Heartbreaking.— Jessi (@lovelyjessij) May 6, 2019
Jaylon McKenzie, 8th grade football phenom, shot and killed at Illinois partyhttps://t.co/HQsUUh96tZ
Gunner said she received a phone call at close to midnight that her son had been shot.
Jaylon McKenzie’s death has brought an outpouring of condolences, with many across the country mourning the too-short life of the boy who seemed headed to the NFL one day. Former NFL wide receiver Early Bennett was among those who posted messages mourning his death.