In a groundbreaking move, 13-year-old Da’vian Kimbrough has made history by becoming the youngest professional athlete in American team sports.
The talented young footballer has signed a contract with the United Soccer League (USL) Championship club Sacramento Republic, surpassing previous records set by athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, and WNBA. Kimbrough's signing at such a young age is unprecedented in America.
Kimbrough's achievement is even more remarkable when compared to other notable records in American sports. Previously, the youngest player to sign a contract in Major League Soccer was Maximo Carrizo, who set the record on his 14th birthday.
In women's football, the youngest National Women's Soccer League player signed was Melanie Barcenas at the age of 15. By breaking both records, Kimbrough has drawn comparisons to the legendary Freddy Adu, who became the youngest debutant and goalscorer in MLS history before turning 15.
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Sacramento's president and general manager, Todd Dunivant, expressed excitement about Kimbrough's potential. He is quoted by the Mirror as saying: “Da’vian’s journey with Republic FC is just beginning.
"He is a remarkable talent who has committed to his dream of becoming an elite player, from competing with players in older age groups and thriving at top competitions to stepping onto the first team training grounds."
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Kimbrough joined Sacramento's academy at the age of 11 and has since scored an impressive 61 goals in 81 appearances across different age groups in MLS NEXT. According to the Athletic, the club faced stiff competition for Kimbrough's signature from several MLS academies, including the New York Red Bulls.
Despite other options available to him, Kimbrough chose Sacramento as his professional pathway. This summer, he showcased his talents playing for the academy team at the Bassevelde U13 Cup, where he scored six goals and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
He played against European clubs Benfica, Celtic, Juventus, RB Leipzig and West Ham United in the competition. Kimbrough will have the opportunity to play for Sacramento's first team in a competitive fixture as early as this weekend against the Birmingham Legion.
Kimbrough will continue training with both the academy and senior sides of the club. Given his age, the teenager will balance his football career with his studies while the club have implemented a modified training schedule for him, closely monitored by their sports medicine staff.
Sacramento currently sit top of the Western Conference in the USL Championship, having lost only three games throughout the season.
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