Ayden Burnett Scores for Pretty Boy

My name is Melissa Burnett, and I would love to share a story with you about my son Ayden Burnett. He is just 8 years old. As his mother, I am overwhelmed by his compassion, and humbled by his selfless kindness, and unprovoked commitment to a boy he will never meet. I am so proud of him, and truly am touched by how genuine and sincere his actions were. I hope this story brings a tear to your eye and a smile to your heart, as it has to mine.

My son Ayden plays for Eldorado United for the U9 boys team. We were also in the Norcal State Cup Tournament. And though Jonathan and Ayden were not on the same team and had never met, you will see that there was soon to be a bond between the two of them, that will never be forgotten.

On Sunday, November 16, news of the tragic accident spread fast across the soccer fields as every team that participated in the tournament took a moment of silence on Jonathan’s behalf before each game.

It made for a long week following that Sunday, as my son Ayden had many questions about the tragedy, that had so quickly taken a fellow soccer players life.

On November 22, we returned to Manteca, to participate in the semi-final of the Norcal-State Cup. The death of Jonathan weighed heavy on our hearts, and out of respect for Jonathan and his family, the boys took a moment of silence again before the game. Ayden’s team also wore green tape around the tops of their socks and shin guards to honor Jonathan. Ayden’s team won their semi-final match, and we prepared to return the next day for the FINAL.

On November 23, my husband took my son and two of my other boys to Ayden’s final game in Manteca. I drove separately later, so was unaware of what my son was doing while he was getting prepared for the big game. To shorten the story, just a little, I will tell you that Ayden scored a goal with his right foot, leaving the final score 1-0 CREW. We had won State Cup Premier . But even bigger than that goal, or that trophy was what I saw on our ride home together.

Shortly after we left the Manteca soccer fields that day, I noticed green tape around Ayden’s right foot. When I asked him if the team had worn tape to honor Jonathan again, he said no, just me mom. "I saved Jonathan’s tape and put it on my soccer ball last night, and today when I was getting ready, I put it back on. I made that goal for Jonathan mom." I couldn’t believe it. I was and still am amazed by him. No one told him to put the tape on. No one told him to keep it. Most boys his age would just take it off and throw it in the garbage. Most boys his age would only wear the tape because an adult told them it was the thing to do. Ayden didn’t know the effect the tape would have. He didn’t wear it to impress anyone or to get a reaction. He truly and selflessly wore it for Jonathan. He new before he walked on that field that this day, his day, was dedicated to Jonathan Manzo-Chavez.

Here is a video of Ayden’s goal. He is number 11. If you watch closely you will see that Ayden touches the ball with his left, but scores with his right.(The ball never touches the ground). The scoring leg had Jonathan’s green tape on it. I recently noticed that the green tape resides on the back of my son’s bedroom door. For Ayden, that tape represents more than we may ever know. As for me, well, I am just very proud of him.

I am hoping that this story will reach Jonathan’s mother. I want her to know that even though we never personally met Jonathan, he will forever hold a memory in our hearts, and in my son Ayden’s. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this story.

      Ayden celebrates his goal for Pretty Boy

I have attached a few photos of Ayden celebrating his goal for Jonathan, (where the green tape on his right leg, and the joy in his face is very visible).

Melissa Burnett
Mom with El Dorado United Crew 00




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