Sad news from Venice, Illinois. Jaylon McKenzie, the eighth-grade prodigy who was recently featured in Sports Illustrated, has passed away. The teen was reportedly shot by a stray bullet while leaving a post-prom party this past weekend.
According to Jaylon’s mother, Sukeena Gunner, a fight broke out inside of the home where the party was held. Jaylon walked outside to avoid the tension inside when a stray bullet struck him.
“He didn’t say much, but he just drew people to him with his smile, with his personality,” Sukeena told media. “My baby had just such a promising future, and for his life to just end in just a senseless killing with someone else that had no regard for life. Just prayer — prayer is all I can really ask for right now.”
Jaylon McKenzie was featured in Sports Illustrated’s Future edition back in November 2018. The teen was forecasted to dominate the NFL in future years and had the stats to support such a prediction.
At just 13-years-old, Jaylon had already led his team to victory at the NFL’s 8th Grade All-American Game in Canton, Ohio. The teen also rushed 1,546 yards and gained 21 touchdowns for his youth team. Jaylon was still in middle school but had already received athletic scholarship offers from Mizzou and Illinois.
“You rarely hear about someone that great in [multiple] sports,” Jaylon’s coach, Al Lewis, shared with the press. “Outside of football, outside of basketball, he was just a great kid.”
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Photo: David E. Klutho/Sports Illustrated