8th grade football phenom shot at Illinois party

By Cristian Cataldo, News Editor

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Jaylon Mckenzie, a 14-year-old football star, was shot and killed Saturday, May 4, in Venice, Ill., as he was leaving a party. Recently, he had been featured in Sports Illustrated as one of the six athletes who would rule the future of sports.  Currently, the police have made no arrests and haven’t been able to update the file since the day of the shooting.

Mckenzie was receiving national attention for his athletic abilities. As an eighth grader, Mckenzie was already getting recruited by two Power 5 schools, the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri and had earned many local and national MVP awards over the last few years as a junior high football phenom.

Those who watched his highlights or heard mention of him laminate on the loss of someone whose future seemed especially bright. 

“It is a very sad thing, I couldn’t imagine what it is like to lose a teammate,” junior Nik Ciaglia said.

Mckenzie’s teammates and coaches were heartbroken by this loss; it is hard to go back on the field and not seeing one of your best players.

“I would assume that the players would want to dedicate the season to their teammate,” assistant football coach Mr. Glenn said. “It is a difficult thing to get over, especially when you are so young. This is the time where the team and family needs to mend together to get through their loss.”

Mckenzie’s funeral was on Saturday. May 18, and over 1,000 people showed up to memorialize the life and athletic career that can now only be stored in their memories. One NFL athlete, Ezekiel Elliott did something special for the grieving family; he payed for all the funeral expenses.

“Jaylon did everything right,” Mckenzie’s mother told The Washington Post in a May issue. “If he did anything wrong, I didn’t know about it.”