A tragic death of a promising eighth-grade football player in St. Louis grabbed headlines around the country and the attention of Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is now doing something special for the grieving family.
A source has confirmed to Herbie Teope of NFL.com that Elliott will pay for the funeral expenses of Jaylon McKenzie, who died after being struck by a stray bullet while leaving a party in Venice, Illinois last weekend.
The news of Elliott’s gesture was first reported by Justina Coronel of KSDK-TV in St. Louis.
“For him to reach out to me was unbelievable,” McKenzie’s mother, Sukeena Gunner, told the Star-Telegram. “Jaylen loved Ezekiel Elliott. He talked about him all the time. When Ezekiel was playing, he would sit in front of the TV. His eyes were glued to the TV, watching him. Just for him to reach out to me and help me in this difficult time leaves me speechless.”
McKenzie was previously featured by Sports Illustrated as one of the country’s six future stars in different sports. He played running back, receiver and defensive back at Mason-Clarke Middle School in East St. Louis.
Elliott has ties to the St. Louis area having played at John Burroughs School, a private prep school in Ladue, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.