8th-grade football star featured in Sports Illustrated shot, killed in Illinois

Stock photo of a football.

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Stock photo of a football.

An eighth-grade football star who recently appeared in Sports Illustrated magazine was shot and killed at a party in Illinois, authorities said.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 14-year-old Jaylon McKenzie, a student at Mason-Clark Middle School in East St. Louis, was struck by a stray bullet late Saturday at a party in Venice, said his mother, Sukeena Gunner. He later died at the hospital, Illinois State Police said.

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A second victim, a 15-year-old girl, was injured in the shooting, which occurred just hours after Jaylon and his friends had gone to a school dance, the Post-Dispatch reported. She is in critical condition, authorities said.

Police said the deadly gunfire rang out following a dispute at the party. So far, authorities have not arrested any suspects in connection with the incident.

In November 2018, Sports Illustrated included Jaylon on a list of "six teens who will rule the future in sports." He told the magazine that his dream was to "make the NFL" and play for the Los Angeles Chargers or Rams.

The running back, defensive back and receiver played in the NFL's 8th Grade All-American Game and had been offered scholarships to the universities of Missouri and Illinois, KSDK reported.

"It's so hard to fathom that someone took my baby from me because he dreamed so big," Gunner told the Post-Dispatch. "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."

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