Eighth-Grade Football Phenom Fatally Shot by Stray Bullet

Eighth-Grade Football Phenom Fatally Shot by Stray Bullet

News Staff

A teen sports standout featured in a Sports Illustrated article about young athletes who would rule the future of sports has been fatally shot.

Jaylon McKenzie, an East St. Louis eighth grader, was shot Saturday night at a party in Venice, Illinois, about 5 miles northeast of St. Louis, according to NBC affiliate station KSDK. The teen’s mother said he was at a party in Venice, Illinois when a fight broke out. McKenzie was outside trying to leave the party when a stray bullet hit him, she told the station.

Police said they found McKenzie with serious wounds and he died at a hospital. A 15-year-old girl was in critical condition at a hospital. No arrests have been made.

East St. Louis School District 189 confirmed “a few” of its students were shot Saturday night.

“We send our prayers to the families impacted by this violence & hope for healing for the victims,” the district said in a statement.

McKenzie drew national attention when he caught five passes for 161 yards and 2 touchdowns at the NFL’s 8th Grade All-American Game in Canton, Ohio, in August. He posted on social media that he had received football scholarship offers from the University of Missouri and University of Illinois.

He told Sports Illustrated his dream was to play in the NFL and be a star in Los Angeles for the Chargers or Rams. He also said he hoped to follow in the footsteps of Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson.

After news of McKenzie’s death, Jackson tweeted Sunday “You Was Next Up and taken too soon!”

“We have to do better,” his tweet read. “Rest Easy.”