‘Random Black Kid’ Misidentified as Soccer Star’s Son on National TV

The segment about Jessica McDonald and her son was played on Juneteenth.
Jessica McDonald of the USA celebrates with her son on June 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Maddie Meyer.
Jessica McDonald of the USA celebrates with her son on June 28, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Maddie Meyer. (Photo by Maddie Meyer - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

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Professional soccer player Jessica McDonald, 33, and her son were supposed to be honored during halftime of a televised game on Juneteenth. But instead of showing McDonald’s actual son, a camera panned to a “random” black child in the crowd.

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The National Women’s Soccer League, which produced the broadcast, aired a pre-recorded segment featuring McDonald, who is Black, and her son Jeremiah, 9, on the federal holiday meant to commemorate the emancipation of enslaved people in the U.S.  After the segment, a camera panned to a Black child walking through the stands during halftime, along with a graphic that read “Jessica McDonald’s Son.” A game announcer also identified the boy as McDonald’s son, and it all aired on CBS.  

But it was not her son. McDonald spoke out about the egregious mistake Sunday on Twitter. 

“Honored to have been featured at halftime on @CBS but this isn’t even my son,” McDonald, who’s won a FIFA World Cup with the U.S. National Team and three National Women's Soccer League championships, wrote on Twitter. “Not sure who’s responsible for pointing out some random black kid in the stands. But this is NOT OK!!!!!! This poor kid looks ssooo uncomfortable….”

In the pre-filmed tribute on Saturday, McDonald spoke candidly about race in America and said her son has “come to understand a little bit more about life. He knows he’s a little different than a lot of his friends because of his skin color.” 

The emotional clip aired just moments before the camera focused on the Black child who is not McDonald’s son.  

The NWSL, who produced Saturday's game in North Carolina, and commissioner Lisa Baird apologized for the incident on Monday in a tweet. Baird also wrote a personal letter to McDonald, according to The Charlotte Observer.   

“I am deeply apologetic for the misidentification made during the match on Saturday in North Carolina that was produced by the NWSL,” Baird wrote in her Tweet. “I sincerely apologize to @J_Mac1422 and her son Jeremiah, as well as the young boy in the camera shot and his family for our mistake.”

McDonald quote tweeted the apology saying, “Thank You.”

McDonald did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment.