He was only 14 years old, but according to some, he was supposed to be the next big name in sports.
Jaylon McKenzie had his whole life in front of him before he was shot and killed on May 4.
According to Fox News, McKenzie was at a party in Venice, Illinois, on Saturday night when a fight broke out around 11:40 p.m.
McKenzie’s mother learned from witnesses that her son and a 15-year-old girl were hit by stray bullets during the altercation.
McKenzie had attended the party after taking part in the eighth-grade dance earlier that night.
Police arrived to find NFL hopeful and the girl with life-threatening wounds. As Fox News reports, McKenzie was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at a nearby hospital.
At just 13 years old, McKenzie was featured in Sports Illustrated as one of six high school athletes expected to be one of the biggest names in professional and collegiate athletics.
The star running back, wide receiver, and defensive back for Central Junior High first caught people’s attention in August 2018.
As Sports Illustrated reports, during the NFL’s 8th Grade All-American Game in Canton, Ohio, McKenzie caught five passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns to help his team win.
His performance garnered him “national attention.” Since December, McKenzie had started receiving verbal scholarship offers to play for various colleges.
McKenzie had dreams of “making the NFL” and being one of the star players for either the Los Angeles Rams or Los Angeles Chargers by 2030.
Since his unexpected passing, McKenzie’s mom, Sukeena Gunner, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her son has always “dreamed so big”:
“It’s so hard to fathom that someone took my baby from me because he dreamed so big. 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.”
“He wanted to walk across the stage to accept his contract in the NFL. 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.”
State Rep. LaToya Greenwood took to Facebook to offer her condolences to Gunner and her family.
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten…
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.
Latest reports say the other victim in the shooting, who has yet to be identified, remains in critical condition.
Police have not arrested anyone in connection with McKenzie’s passing.