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Soccer player Da’Vian Kimbrough, 13, talks historic debut as youngest pro

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(NEW YORK) — Soccer player Da’vian Kimbrough had a moment this week unlike most of his fellow 13-year-olds.

On Sunday, Kimbrough made history as the youngest professional athlete in American team sports when he made his debut with the Sacramento Republic, a USL Championship team based in Sacramento, California.

“At first, I was a little nervous but I feel like once I stepped on, it was more exciting than anything,” Da’vian told Good Morning America in an exclusive television interview Friday. “I tried to silence the noise and just play soccer.”

Da’vian, of Woodland, California, made his debut in the 87th minute of Sunday’s game, which Sacramento went onto win 2-0 against the Las Vegas Lights.

At 13 years, seven months and 13 days old, Da’vian beat the previous record held by Axel Kei, who was 13 years, nine months, and nine days old when he made his debut in 2021 for the Real Monarchs, according to ESPN.

After the game, Da’vian said he celebrated his history-making performance with his family and fans.

“I celebrated by going up to my family first of all, of course, taking pictures,” he said. “And then I also went over to fans at the end, to sign some stuff and take pictures.”

Da’vian, a forward, played for the Republic’s training academy for two years before signing with the team in August, according to the team.

At the time of his signing, Da’vian also made history as the youngest American to agree to a professional deal, according to ESPN.

He told GMA that he feels like his skill level really increased three years ago, during the coronavirus pandemic, when he was homeschooled and trained twice a day, both morning and night.

“I feel like that helped push my game to another level,” Da’vian said.

His father, Dominique Kimbrough, told GMA that when Da’vian started playing soccer at age 4, no one could have predicted he would make soccer history less than one decade later.

“I actually just didn’t think it would go this far, at that point. His love for the game took it here,” Kimbrough said. “At 4-years-old, it was just alright, let’s get into something, and then that something turned into this amazing human being that’s sitting here with me right now.”

Both Kimbrough and his wife, Da’vian’s mom, Jessica Cervantes, were college athletes.

Kimbrough said his advice to his son has always been to “just keep working” at his game.

“There’s going to be a lot of noise. As long as you focus on what you want and you continue to work at it, and work hard, whatever you ask and whatever you want can happen, but you have to be willing to put in the work,” Kimbrough said. “That’s a constant conversation for us.”

Da’vian said his advice for other kids is the same, to, “just keep working hard.”

“Persevere through everything, no matter what,” he said. “And everyone has a different path, so even if you don’t make it at the same age as me, keep pushing hard so you can make it eventually.”

 

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