The Dallas Cowboys’ Ezekiel Elliott recently made a move that could be considered far greater than any one he’s made on the field.
He made that move for the family of Jaylon McKenzie, a 14-year-old from the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois, who was shot and killed by a stray bullet Saturday night when he left a house party in nearby Venice, Illinois.
McKenzie was a football phenom who played running back, wide receiver, as well as defensive back, and in 2018 he was featured in the Future Issue of Sports Illustrated as a teen athlete to watch. He also had scholarship offers from the University of Illinois and the University of Missouri, despite only being in the eighth grade.
According to CNN, a fight broke out between other individuals, and McKenzie was struck when he left the party, as was a 15 year-old girl who’s now in critical condition. McKenzie died at a hospital shortly after the shooting.
“They stopped by the party, not with any intentions to staying long,” said his mother Sukeena Gunner. “They were there to pick up something from a friend.”
She also explained that her son usually didn’t attend parties, because he was busy on the weekends with football and other sports. Besides being in a traveling football summer league, the teen also ran track and played basketball.
Elliott, who’s from St. Louis, just across the Mississippi River from where the teenager lived and died, stepped in to pay for McKenzie’s funeral costs once he heard the news, which Gunner said she couldn’t believe.
“For him to reach out to me was unbelievable,” she stated. “Jaylon loved Ezekiel Elliott. He talked about him all the time. Just for him to reach out to me and help me in this difficult time leaves me speechless.”
Earl Bennett, formerly of the Chicago Bears, also acknowledged McKenzie’s death in a May 5 tweet. “My heart and prayers goes out to Jaylon McKenzie family and friends. Matthew 5:4,” he wrote.