State Stories


Before Football Stardom, IHSA Soccer Experience Made Lasting Impact On Jarrett Payton

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As the son of Chicago Bear legend and NFL Hall of Famer Walter Payton, Jarrett Payton has long been associated with the gridiron, from delivering his father’s Hall of Fame induction speech at age 12 to a media career covering the game that continues today.

Payton was introduced to the world in 1993, when as a 12-year old he gave his father’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech in Canton, Ohio. Payton went on to star at St. Viator High School en route to winning a National Championship at the University of Miami, followed by six years of professional football.

What many people don’t realize however, is that Payton played soccer at St. Viator as a freshman and sophomore, before deciding as a junior to follow in his father’s football footsteps. As a sophomore in 1997, Payton helped the Lions soccer team reach state for the first time, where they placed third during a 24-5-1 campaign under head coach Mike Taylor.

Last year, while hosting Sports Feed on WGN, Payton was joined by Taylor, when a surprise reunion unfolded. Nino DaSilva ,TJ King and Dan Storino, all teammates from the 1997 soccer team, surprised Payton. An emotional Payton reflected on the experience, saying, “my sophomore year in high school playing soccer with these guys was the best time of my entire life.”

See the whole video from WGN below: