Eighth Grader With NFL Dreams Shot And Killed At A House Party
When Jaylon McKenzie was born, his mother Sukeena Gunner said his first word was ball.
By the time Jaylon was 3 years old he was getting dressed like he had a game to attend and at age 5, he joined a little league tackle football. Jaylon loved sports, specifically football, so much so the Belleville, Ill. teen merited the attention of college football coaches at 14 years old and was featured in a "Future Issue" of Sports Illustrated.
However, his dreams of becoming a professional football player came to an end on Saturday (May 4) when he was killed by a stray bullet.
Gunner told CNN Jaylon rarely attended parties because he traveled on the weekends for summer travel football team. He also ran track and played basketball. However, May was slow so with a little downtime, he went to a house party in nearby Venice, Ill.
"They stopped by the party, not with any intentions to stay long," Gunner said. They were there to pick up something from a friend, she said.
Jaylon was leaving the party when a fight broke out and was he struck by a stray bullet. He and a girl were rushed to a nearby hospital where he later died. The girl is in critical condition.
When Gunner learned of her son's demise, she said she wept and said coping with his death has been challenging.
"I just started screaming. I just prayed and asked the Lord not to take my baby," she said "It's very hard. It's still like a bad dream like I'm gonna wake up in the morning and my baby's gonna be smiling at me asking for something to eat like he always does."