Jaylon McKenzie to be Honored

Jaylon McKenzie to be Honored

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Story courtesy of ESPN, CBS and NFL.com

A tragic death of a promising eight-grade football player in St. Louis grabbed headlines around the country and the attention of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is now doing something special for the grieving family.

Jaylon McKenzie excelled at running back, receiver and defensive back positions. He captured national attention when he caught five passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns at the NFL’s 8th Grade All-American Game in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in August. The HOF Academy will be recognizing Jaylon at this year's 7v7 National Championships by naming the 15-U tournament trophy in his honor.  Jaylon’s mother will be in attendance.

"We were all so heartbroken to hear the news about Jaylon. Not only was he such a special talent, he was an amazing young man that exemplified all of the values that we love here at the Hall of Fame. It was an honor to have Jaylon at our HOF Academy last summer and for him to play in our inaugural 8th Grade All American game during the 2018 Enshrinement," shared HOF Academy National Scouting Director Gary Howard

A source has confirmed with NFL.com that Elliott will pay for the funeral expenses of Jaylon McKenzie

ESPN reports the tragedy struck a personal tone with Elliott, who grew up in St. Louis, and that he reached out to the McKenzie family when he learned of the story. The Cowboys confirmed Elliott's gesture and said he plans to keep his communications with Jaylon's family private.

"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."

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