According to TMZ Sports, Elliot has decided to pay the burial expenses for 14-year-old Jaylon McKenzie. Per reports, the eighth-grader was at a house party following a school dance when a fight broke out forcing McKenzie and his friends to leave the scene. While they were walking outside to head home, McKenzie was struck by a stray bullet leading to his death at a nearby hospital.
McKenzie was a budding football prodigy. At just 13 years old the running back/wide receiver was featured by Sports Illustrated as a one of the publication's "Six Teens Who Will Define the Future of Sports." In addition, his athletic prowess was recognized by both the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois, which already extended McKenzie scholarship opportunities.
Like many young athletes in the metro-St. Louis area, McKenzie admired Ezekiel Elliot. Once hearing about McKenzie's death and his love for him, Elliot decided to reach out to McKenzie's mother Sukeena Gunner to express his condolences and cover the funeral costs.
"For [Elliot] to reach out to me was unbelievable," Gunner told the local Belleville News-Democrat. "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."
Jaylon was well loved on and off the field. He was projected to attend East St. Louis Senior High; East St. Louis has dispatched crisis counselors to all the schools in their district.
"Jaylon did everything right. If he did anything wrong, I didn’t know about it," his mother explained. "He got up every morning, went to school, did his work. He never rode with anyone else; I’d take him to school, or sometimes my husband, and we’d pick him up. Then the next day, we’d do it all over again."
Illinois State Police are still looking for the suspects behind the shots. They are asking for any witnesses or potential tips to contact Case Agent Scott Wobbe at 618-381-1467. They insist that callers will remain anonymous.