FRISCO, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott has offered to pay for the funeral of an eighth grader who was shot and killed while leaving a party in Illinois.
The team said Elliott reached out to the family of 14-year-old Jaylon McKenzie to pay for the funeral expenses.
McKenzie, a football phenom with college offers from the University of Missouri and University of Illinois, was killed by an apparent stray bullet as he was leaving a party near St. Louis on Saturday, his mother, Sukeena Gunner, told CNN.
Gunner said a fight had broken out at the party, and that McKenzie was trying to leave when shots were fired. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. A 15-year-old girl was also injured in the shooting, and she was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“It’s very hard,” Gunner told CNN. “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.”
Elliott, who grew up in the St. Louis area, reportedly wanted to pay for McKenzie’s funeral as friends and family look to remember the 14-year-old star.
“He wasn’t a man of many words,” Gunner said. “He had a humbling personality. He wasn’t very outgoing, but everybody knew him and loved him.”
Cowboys Vice President Stephen Jones commented on Elliott’s gesture.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Jones said. “I just think it goes to show you what kind of person Zeke is off the field. He’s a caring person.”