Chicago Man Agrees to Pay Homeless Little League Champ's Rent for a Year
09/01/2014 AT 11:35 AM EDT
A Chicago businessman has agreed to pay the Benton family's rent for a full year after learning they recently lost their home after Jaheim's mother had her hours cut at her home-care job.
"Superstar and homeless don't mix," Spencer Leak, owner of Leak and Sons Funeral Home in Chicago, told the Today show. "We've got to do something about that, and for the next year, little superstar Jaheim is going to have a home."
Jaheim, 12, charmed Chicagoans as a key player who helped lead his team, Jackie Robinson West, to become U.S. champions in the Little League World Series before losing in the international game to South Korea, 8-4.
But privately, Benton and his family faced a scary struggle: the loss of their home caused the family to split up and sleep on family members' couches.
Because their homelessness came in the midst of the team's incredible run, Jaheim's family simply tried to keep him focused on the game.
"It's been hard, but I just tell my baby to hold his head up," said Jaheim's mom, Devona. "I told him to get out there and play ball, despite his knowing that we lost our home."
Leak said he could not resist assisting a boy who helped bring so much joy to the Windy City.
"They have united the city. They have united the country. And now, they are known all over the world," Leak told Chicago's ABC 7.
Leak said he hopes his gift will help the family get back on their feet – permanently.
"I would hope that this rent turns into a mortgage that turns into home ownership for them," he told the news station. "We want our little superstar to have a roof over his head, because that's what he is. He's a superstar."