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A Pro at 13

Thirteen-year-old Da’vian Kimbrough just became the youngest pro athlete in the history of American sports.
A teen holds up a white jersey reading Kimbrough surrounded by adults and children in front of a backdrop reading Republic FC.
Sacramento Republic FC
Da’vian Kimbrough (center) poses with his family and others after signing a contract with Sacramento Republic.

Da’vian Kimbrough is a pro soccer player—and he’s only 13. In August 2023, Kimbrough signed with Sacramento Republic, a professional soccer team in the U.S. He’s now the youngest professional athlete in the history of American team sports.

“Da’vian’s journey with Republic FC is just beginning,” said Sacramento Republic president and general manager Todd Dunivant. “He is a remarkable talent who has committed to his dream of becoming an elite player, from competing with players in older age groups, thriving at top competitions, to stepping on to the first team training grounds.”

Da’vian started playing in Republic’s youth academy in 2021, when he was 11 years old. He scored 27 goals in his first year. Thanks in part to Da’vian, his team wrapped up that season with the best record in its age group (30 wins and one loss). In two seasons of play for MLS Next, which is Major League Soccer’s youth division, Da’vian scored 61 goals.

Da’vian’s parents, who were both athletic when they were teens, said he’s been interested in sports since he was about 3, when he would watch footage of his dad playing football.

“We are so happy and honored,” Da’vian’s mom, Jessica Cervantes, told Fox 40 News. “All the hard work that he put in, and for Republic to put their trust in him, we greatly appreciate it.”

Da’vian’s dad, Dom Kimbrough, says the family will make sure their son still gets to be a kid. Cervantes says that while Da’vian is serious on the soccer field, he also knows how to let loose.

“He’s still like a regular teenager,” she told Fox 40 News. “When we get home, he’s a regular 13-year-old boy, having fun [and] laughing with us.” 

According to the team, Da’vian is eligible to begin playing with the major league team immediately, but he will also continue to sharpen his skills by training with the team’s academy.

“We are honored that the Kimbrough family and Da’vian have chosen Republic FC to support his professional pathway, and we look forward to taking the next steps together,” Dunivant said.

The video shows Kimbrough in action!

Sacramento Republic FC

Did You Know?

Have you ever wondered if you could get signed to a pro sports team? Many professional sports have age minimums that would keep even the most talented middle school—and high school—athletes out until they’re older. Here are a few examples.

NBA (basketball): Players must be at least 19 the year they’re drafted.

MLB (baseball): Players must be at least 17.

NFL (American football): Players can’t be drafted less than three years after they finish high school.

What about soccer? Soccer leagues all over the world set their own age requirements. In the U.S., players must be 18 before signing a professional contract. But younger players can sign with teams under special circumstances and with permission from a parent or guardian.

Check out the slideshow to read about some of the youngest pro athletes ever!

UPI/Bettmann Archive; Christian Liewig—Corbis Sport/Getty Images; US Youth Soccer National League; Bettmann/Getty Images; Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images Sport

Soccer or Football?

The cover of a soccer football guide from 1910 shows an athlete in uniform.
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (07018108)
Soccer? Football? In 1910, some people used both words.

What’s the name of the sport where players kick a round ball into a goal? In most countries, it’s called football. But in the U.S., it’s called soccer. Where did the term soccer come from, and why do Americans use it?

The word came not from the U.S. but from England. In the 1880s, students at the University of Oxford in England called this sport association football. They also played another football-type sport called rugby. Sometimes they used nicknames for these sports. Rugby was called rugger and association football was called assoccer. Over time, assoccer was shortened to soccer.

In England, people eventually settled on the names for these two sports. They were rugby and football. But Americans kept using the term soccer. That’s probably because Americans developed another sport that involves kicking a ball, which they call football!

Soccer’s GOAT?

A man on a soccer field with three other players behind him is about to kick a ball
dpa/Alamy

Who was the best soccer player of all time? It may have been Pelé, a Brazilian legend who electrified soccer fields in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. 

You can read more about Pelé at Britannica!

WORD OF THE DAY

potential

PART OF SPEECH:
noun
Definition:
: an ability that someone has that can be developed to help that person become successful
Definitions provided by
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