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One night, two deaths, and a wife asks why

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  • One night, two deaths, and a wife asks why

    Proof 'murdered my husband over some nonsense'

    For six days, Jackie Bender held her husband's hand as he breathed through a ventilator, telling him, "I love you. Everything's going to be OK."

    She can only hope the words got through to Keith Bender Jr. before he died Tuesday.

    And she can only hope that in all the hoopla this week over the man police say shot her husband in the face before being gunned down himself, the Detroit rapper Proof, that these words won't be lost either:

    Don't forget Keith Bender Jr.

    "They put this man on a pedestal," she said of Proof. "That man murdered my husband over some nonsense."

    In the wake of the shootings April 11 at the C.C.C. club on 8 Mile, prosecutors have pledged to crack down on after-hours clubs, calling the incident another example of the prevalence of guns on Detroit's streets and the willingness of people to use them. At Proof's funeral at Fellowship Chapel on Wednesday, speakers made the point again and again: The violence must end, the shootings must stop.

    The issue's much more personal to Jackie Bender, who Friday remembered the 35-year-old Desert Storm veteran she married, a man who had learned the day before he was shot he might no longer need a pacemaker for the heart condition that cost him his Army career.

    She remembered how they met, him stepping on her foot at a Texas nightclub and later asking to buy her a drink and getting her phone number.

    She remembered how he carried on a month-long telephone courtship with her before their first date.

    She remembered how she finally said yes after five marriage proposals.

    Since she stepped off an airplane from Texas last week, Jackie Bender, 40, has endured the hype surrounding Proof, who police say was shot and killed by Keith Bender's cousin believing that Proof, after shooting Bender in the face, was going to keep firing. Jackie Bender and other family members have stayed off television and requested their photos not be printed out of fear of retaliation.

    Last week, the family made the painful decision to take Bender off a ventilator, knowing he was already brain dead. He died half a day later.

    After her husband served as an Army medic, after he endured a heart attack on a basketball court three years ago, after all the medications and the pacemaker Keith Bender needed to live, Jackie Bender couldn't imagine an end like this.

    Though they separated in January and Keith Bender moved home to Detroit, the couple had recently reconciled. Jackie Bender was planning to move here.

    "It's unfair," she said. "That was my heart, and I was his."

    'That's my pumpkin'

    Leona Bender pointed Friday at an old picture of her son as a toddler. In it, he is lying on the front steps of an east-side Detroit home with a bottle in his mouth.

    "That's my pumpkin," she said.

    Keith Bender, the first of her three sons, came when she was 16. She raised her sons alone after their father, Keith Bender Sr., left. He died in 1992 of alcohol-related problems.

    She said Keith Jr. was the adventurous type: teaching himself to perform backflips on her bed, learning to juggle and developing a love for basketball, baseball and music.

    "If he saw something and wanted to do it, he would learn to do it," said his cousin Lance Sims, 26, a Howard University graduate school student who grew up with Bender. "He played the big brother role when I was growing up and taught me how to have fun."

    Keith Bender quickly embraced the ROTC program when he got to Osborn High School -- the same school Proof, born as Deshaun Holton, attended, even though the two didn't know each other, Bender's family said. Keith Bender, his mother remembered, played piano and performed flute in the marching band.

    By senior year, his plan was to join the Army. He enlisted in 1990.

    "He was telling me about all the opportunities," his 51-year-old mother said. "How many young people from Detroit's east side, if they're not into sports or music, make it out? I was very proud of him."

    Serving for 14 years, he was stationed in Louisiana, Texas and Japan and served in Operation Desert Storm for a year. He would eventually train to become an Army recruiter in metro Detroit, stationed at Selfridge Air National Guard Base.

    "Whenever he spoke about the military, he talked about the opportunities and the career it gave him," Sims said. "He got out of here, and he wanted other people to get out. He used the military to do that."

    Finally, yes

    Keith Bender met his future wife in a nightclub in October 1999, while he was stationed at Ft. Hood, Texas. Two years later, he got up one morning, snuck into the kitchen and made her bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast in bed.

    That morning he made his fifth proposal to her.

    "Will you please marry me?" he said, crying.

    "I was finally ready," Jackie Bender said. A justice of the peace married them, in Temple, Texas, on Jan. 9, 2002 -- a month after that breakfast in bed.

    Three months after that, she and the three children she already had, then ages 16, 14 and 11, moved to Selfridge in Macomb County, and Keith Bender began work as an Army recruiter.

    Life chugged along smoothly for a year, until January 2003, when a military official's wife knocked on Jackie Bender's door on the base: Keith Bender had collapsed of chest pains while playing basketball. He had a heart attack.

    Over the next six days, he had two more heart attacks while in the hospital. In April 2003, Keith Bender had a pacemaker installed in his chest.

    "Being a young man, going through that, you're going to question why it happened to you," Jackie Bender said. "He was hurt about it, but we just prayed about it and gave it to the Lord. He made it through. We were fine."

    The Benders remained at Selfridge until August 2005. Then they moved back to Texas, and Keith Bender retired through a medical discharge.

    "He wasn't fit to do the physical training anymore, being a sergeant first-class," she said. "Being a recruiter is very stressful. You put in long hours, and he needed to rest. I didn't want him to do it anymore."

    Without going into details, Jackie Bender described the next few months in Texas as rocky, saying that, this past January, Keith Bender moved back with his mother in Detroit.

    "We started missing each other almost immediately," Jackie Bender said.

    Back from Texas

    Though she didn't care for the cold weather and found it cheaper to live in Texas, Jackie Bender decided in February that after her kids finished the school year, she'd move back to metro Detroit. Keith Bender, who was no longer working and was considering using the G.I. Bill to go to business school, wanted to buy a house in New Haven, and his life seemed to be turning around.

    "His health was improving without all the stress," she said.

    On April 10, she said, he learned after a doctor's visit that he could make it without the pacemaker. He could have it removed.

    So he went out to celebrate with friends.

    That's where details get fuzzy.

    Police have said Keith Bender and his cousin Mario Etheridge, an employee of the C.C.C. club, were playing pool when Bender got into a fight with Proof. Witnesses told police the rapper poked Bender in the chest and Bender punched him. Proof drew a handgun and shot Bender in the face, police said.

    Etheridge shot Proof after the rapper stood over Bender, preparing to shoot again, police said.

    Jackie Bender, who got the call early April 11 from one of her husband's fellow recruiters, said she's baffled by his killing.

    "Keith is not a violent man; I never saw a violent side of him," she said. "That's what hurts me so much. He was in a club because his friend wanted him to hang out.

    "He didn't deserve this," she added. "We didn't deserve this."


    bout time we got some shit about Bender instead of every news article being about Proof...glad we got to see into the mans background and life....RIP
    Originally posted by Tone Riggz
    Akon has dry humped a teenage girl, tossed a kid off stage...i think for his next feat, he should diamond cutter Tito Jackson...

  • #2
    LMAO Good shit
    ...........The Growth...........


    • #3
      and a wife asks why ....

      one word: America
      Montreal Canadiens


      • #4
        Ain't Americas fault.


        • #5
          Whatever happened, they're both dead over some stupid shit. And it's a tragedy.

          RIP to them both.
          Peep out my new track - "Whaleface (Reintroduction)"

          L O S T


          • #6
            Reading all that made me sad. He seemed like a nice guy. Time's like these are so hard for the person's family. I can't even imagine losing someone I love over some bullshit.


            Good post.


            • #7
              You see when guns come in to play, bad things happen. As soon as people realize that there are alternate ways of handeling a bad situation that do not revolve around firearms the world will be a better place.

              But then you have to look at situations like these. The Bender cousin allegedly assumed that Proof was going to continue shooting and used that as leverage to kill Proof. So for this woman to say that Proof murdered her husband, it's a double standard. I can understand her pain of this loss, but she's confused.

              Nobody involved that night was in the right path of pulling out a firearm. So I'm not defending either side.


              • #8
                Originally posted by ThatNuccaJuan
                LMAO Good shit


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