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Homeless Jackie Robinson West player's family gets rent paid for a year

Jaheim Benton, one of the Jackie Robinson West Little League champions, was scoring runs for the team without a place to live.
One of the Jackie Robinson West Little League champions was scoring runs for the team without a place to live.

Jaheim Benton's family has been homeless since June. But on Friday, the owners of a Chicago funeral home heard about the family's plight and decided to pay their rent for an entire year.

Benton scored five runs in the Little League World Series, including the run that pushed the team past Las Vegas in the national championship game. Eyewitness News spoke with Jaheim after the team landed at Midway.

"We had played hard. We did our best out there. And we're ready for a parade," said Jaheim.

But while Jaheim had a knack for rounding the bases and getting to home, the 12-year-old had no place to call home. With Jaheim's parents both struggling to find full-time work, the family was forced to split up and stay at friends' houses.

It began when Jaheim's mom, Devona Benton, had her hours cut as a home care provider. Scrounging for work, she was one of the last parents to make it to Williamsport.

"I'm very anxious to get there to see my son and the rest of the boys. I've been following and supporting them since they've been playing. I ain't giving up, boys. I'm coming," said Devona Benton.

Jaheim's father, a part-time radiator technician, also made it to Williamsport. Despite their money problems, Jaheim stayed focused on baseball.

"They have united the city. They have united the country. And now, they are known all over the world," said Spencer Leak, Jr., Leak and Sons Funeral Home.

Spencer Leak, Jr., from Leak and Sons Funeral Home in Chatham, was moved by Jaheim's story. The Leak family made a generous gift on Friday: a year's worth of rent for the Little Leaguer's family.

"I would hope that this rent turns into a mortgage that turns into home ownership for them," said Leak Jr. "We want our little superstar to have a roof over his head because that's what he is. He's a superstar."

Jaheim's mom told Eyewitness News on the phone on Friday that she wants the focus to remain on JRW's success, and not their family's situation. She said she told her son not to worry about their situation and to just play ball, and clearly, he did just that.

Mo'ne Davis teams up with JRW players in Chicago

It was JRW that knocked Mo'ne Davis' team out of the World Series, but apparently there are no hard feelings. A restaurant in Chatham became the center of the youth baseball universe on Friday night, where there was a reunion of Little League giants with Davis, the pitching phenom of Philly, and six members of our Jackie Robinson West all-stars.

"I can't walk around Philly anymore. (You're recognized here in Chicago as well.) Yeah," said Davis.

"I'm trying to get her to move to Chicago. I'm wondering if she will. She's at least thinking about it," said Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rainbow-PUSH Coalition.

The dinner in Chatham was just the beginning of a busy weekend. Mo'ne and JRW are to be honored at Rainbow-PUSH, and the boys are scheduled to appear at the White Sox and Cubs games.

"Yeah, it's amazing. I'm speechless still. All these people," said Trey Hondras, Jackie Robinson West All-Star.

For more information and to contribute to the Jackie Robinson West Little League organization, visit http://jackierobinsonwest.org.
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