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Illinois football prodigy, 14, recently featured in Sports Illustrated, is shot dead

By Talia Kaplan, Fox News

A 14-year-old recently featured in Sports Illustrated as one of six teens “who will rule the future in sports,” died after he was shot at a party in Illinois on Saturday night, according to police.

The shooting killed Jaylon McKenzie, 14, an eighth-grade student at Central Junior High School in Belleville, Ill., not far from East St. Louis. A 15-year-old girl was critically injured, police said, adding that no arrests have been made.

McKenzie’s mother said witnesses told her he was hit by a stray bullet after a fight broke out at the party, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“It’s so hard to fathom that someone took my baby from me because he dreamed so big,” McKenzie’s mother, Sukeena Gunner, told the Post-Dispatch. “I can just remember him coming into my room and telling my husband to call his name. ‘We have a 5-6 running back, Jayyyyy-lonnnn MacKenzieeee.’ And he would run into the room after his name was called.”

In November, McKenzie told Sports Illustrated his goal was to “Make the NFL” and his dream was to be “a star in L.A.—for the Rams or the Chargers.”

The shooting unfolded in Venice, Ill. around 11:40 p.m. Saturday night, Illinois State Police told Fox News.

Officers were responding to a report of a disturbance and shots fired at a large party. They said when they arrived they found McKenzie and the other teen were shot and needed medical attention. Police said officers immediately began life-saving measures before both victims were transported to nearby hospitals.

McKenzie was pronounced dead a short time after arriving at the hospital.

This article originally appeared on Fox News.

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