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Homeless Little League World Series player gets new home thanks to local fan

Aug. 31, 2014 at 10:46 AM ET

Jackie Robinson West was crowned the best team in the U.S. during the Little League World Series, finishing second-place overall during the tournament's final. 

But for one member, 12-year-old Jaheim Benton, life at home in Chicago was difficult. While Jaheim was traveling with his team, his family was living apart, spending time on various family members' couches. The family recently lost their home when Jaheim's mom's hours were cut at her home care job. 

Video: For one The Jackie Robinson West Little League team player, Jaheim Benton, life off the field was harsh, as his family struggled with homelessness. Until one local heard his story and decided to help. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren reports.

"It's been hard, but I just tell my baby to hold his head up," Jaheim's mom, Devona, told TODAY. "I told him to get out there and play ball despite his knowing that we lost our home."

Jackie Robinson West eventually made it all the way to the Little League World Series final, where they played against South Korea's team. The Chicago-based team, and U.S. champions, eventually lost 8-4. 

When the team returned home to Chicago, they were considered heroes, and treated to a parade, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanual called them "America's team."

"He got out there and he still played ball and he didn't give up," Devona Benton said of her son's performance in the international tournament.

With the team's success, as they returned from Williamsburg, Pennsylvania, as national champions, word of the Benton family's situation slowly began to spread. When local businessman Spencer Leak, owner of Leak and Sons Funeral Home, heard about Jaheim's struggles, he decided to step in — and offered to pay for the Benton family's rent for a year.

"Superstar and homeless don't mix," Leak said. "We've got to do something about that and for the next year, little superstar Jaheim is going to have a home."



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