- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

DOLTON, Ill. (AP) - The last few months have brought a dramatic change in fortunes for one player on Chicago’s national champion Little League team.

Thirteen-year-old Jaheim Benton of the Jackie Robinson West All Stars and his family were homeless, and his parents were living check-to-check, when Benton scored five runs during the championships game in August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Offers of help poured in after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed that he and his family had been living at the homes of friends and relatives since July, when his mother had her hours cut as a health care provider for older people. His father is a part-time radiator technician, and the family could no longer make their rent.

Now, they are living in a five-bedroom home in south suburban Dolton with a year of free rent donated by Leak & Sons Funeral Homes, the newspaper reported (http://bit.ly/1xeOPE2 ). Another surprise came on Christmas Eve: The Leak family took Jaheim and his family on a holiday shopping trip, pulling up to his new home in a white limousine to pick him up.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Jaheim’s mother, Devona, said of the outpouring of support. “I appreciate every single person who helped. We wouldn’t be where we are now without them.”

Over the past few months, donations from fellow Chicagoans and people across the country have totaled $4,000, according to the Sun-Times. The help included everything from clothing and school supplies to job leads.

On Wednesday, Jaheim rode out of a Target store on a new bicycle and with a laptop computer.

“We want to keep his spirits going because so many of these kids they have their moment of glory and they’re forgotten about,” Spencer Leak Jr. said. “We don’t want that happening, and especially not with Jaheim.”


Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index



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