14-Year-Old Football Star Featured In Sports Illustrated Shot And Killed

By Bill Galluccio

May 6, 2019

An eighth-grader who was featured as one of five young athletes in the Future Issue of Sports Illustrated was shot and killed at a party in Venice, Illinois. Jaylon McKenzie was about to leave the party when a fight broke out inside which resulted in shots being fired. McKenzie and a female friend were struck by stray bullets and rushed to the hospital. Doctors were unable to save McKenzie and officials say the 15-year-old girl remains in critical condition.

A Facebook Live video captured the chaos and confusion as shots rang out during the house party. In the video, police can be seen trying to save the two victims as more gunshots continued to go off. Officials have not made any arrests and have asked the public to contact them with any information about whoever is responsible for the shooting.

McKenzie, despite being in middle school, had received offers from the University of Missouri and University of Illinois to play football when he graduated from high school. He told Sports Illustrated that he dreamed of playing football in Los Angeles, either for the Rams or the Chargers.

His mother, Sukeena Gunner, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that her son always believed he would make it to the NFL.

“He wanted to walk across the stage to accept his contract in the NFL,” Gunner said. “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.”

Chat About 14-Year-Old Football Star Featured In Sports Illustrated Shot And Killed