Since being named the 2017 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKid of the Year 12 months ago, life has become even more of a blur for Maxwell (Bunchie) Young. To receive his award, Bunchie and his family traveled to Brooklyn, where they took part in a televised ceremony that included some seriously big names who were being honored as part of Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year ceremony. Bunchie got to meet several of them on the red carpet.
Recalls Bunchie, “J.J. Watt told me, ‘Keep grinding, keep working.’ He sent me some of his shoes, too. And Joel Embiid [above]—we had like an hour conversation about the NBA and working hard.”
He also got to go up on stage during the ceremony to be interviewed by television star Joel McHale.
Bunchie was named SportsKid of the Year because of his positive attitude, his caring spirit and his ability on the football field and on the track. He racked up touchdown after touchdown for his football team. The 11-year-old was so impressive that he was actually offered a scholarship by the University of Illinois. He’s still competing, and still dominating. “I moved from safety to cornerback this year,” he says. On offense, he’s still a do-it-all threat with the ball in his hands. “I scored 13 or 14 touchdowns,” he says.
Bunchie has also been busy off the field. He helped launch a line of youth outerwear for kids for Under Armour. “I have my own jacket line, I got to work with other kids across the country, we did photo shoots,” he says. “It was really, really fun.” One of those photos ended up on a billboard in New York City.
Bunchie has also been serving as a sports ambassador for the 2028 Olympics, which will be held in Los Angeles—which is near Bunchie’s home. “I know the mayor—we’re working on a campaign for the Olympics. And I get to hold the torch, so that’s pretty cool.”
It’s a perfect project for Bunchie, because it combines two of the things he aspires to achieve. Asked what he wants to do when he gets older, the 11-year-old says, “I want to be mayor, I want to go to the Olympics—and I want to make it to the NFL.”
Don’t bet against him. It’s been a whirlwind year for Bunchie, and things aren’t showing any signs of slowing down.
Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images