WASHINGTON – While some looked at murder trial witness Rachel Jeantel and saw either a defiant young woman or a victim, Tom Joyner looked at her and saw potential.

The nationally syndicated radio personality and philanthropist says he was touched by Jeantel, who spent two days testifying in the trial of George Zimmerman about her last conversation with her friend Trayvon Martin.

In fact, Joyner was so moved that he has offered to pay for Jeantel to attend the historically black college of her choice.

He explained the offer in an open letter to Jeantel and “all the young people in this country who, through no fault of their own, find yourself living in underserved communities and not yet figuring out your way in this world.”

“I realized a hug wasn’t enough,” Joyner wrote.

The letter was posted Wednesday on BlackAmericaWeb.com.

Kelly Harrington, spokeswoman for REACH Media Inc., the parent company of Joyner’s radio show and other businesses, said Jeantel had not responded as of Wednesday afternoon. Joyner was not immediately available for comment, she said.

Jeantel’s attorney, Rod Vereen, said Wednesday he could not immediately reach Jeantel to discuss a request for comment.

Jeantel was the last person to talk to the 17-year-old before he was fatally shot in a February 2012 confrontation with Zimmerman, who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman, 29, was acquitted last week of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.

Jeantel, 19, has yet to graduate from high school. In order to accept Joyner’s offer, she would have to get a diploma and take college entrance exams. Joyner also offered to provide tutors to help her accomplish those goals.


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