Ludacris has just earned a fan for life — and it wasn’t for acting or rapping.
Instead, the Fast and the Furious star paid for the groceries of a stranger, a woman named Therra Jaramillo, who happened to be behind him in line at a Whole Foods in Atlanta, his hometown. As Jaramillo told it on her Facebook page in a post that now has 20,000 likes, Ludacris, whose real name is Chris Bridges, simply saw a person struggling and offered to help.
While Ludacris didn’t know it, Jaramillo was at the store to spend a gift card from a friend helping her through a particularly tough time: Her hot water went out just as one of her employers failed to pay her on time, which added to her stress as a caregiver and the sole owner of multiple pets, following her husband’s death from brain cancer several years ago.
“It’s just me who is responsible for taking care of everything now — the house, the property, four rescued dogs, two rescued cats, an elderly, blind chicken named Dixie Licklighter, my disabled brother … and myself,” Jaramillo wrote. “There is no one else to do it. It’s all on me. I was too embarrassed to say out loud I was having financial difficulty, but it was a solid problem. I was making rice for me and the dogs to eat. I was losing sleep. I was crying daily. I rationed gas in my car.”
Cut back to the food store, where the cashier mistakenly thought some of Jaramillo’s items belonged to Ludacris, a noted philanthropist who runs the Ludacris Foundation for youth. Jaramillo apologized, but her fellow shopper had a surprising reaction.
“The guy in front of me said, ‘I might as well get it.’ Wait. What,” Jaramillo remembered thinking. “He wanted to buy food for my pets. I even clumsily tried to stop the cashier at a certain amount, because the gift card was for $250 and I had gone way over, which at Whole Foods is far too easy to do. I was out of a lot of things at home, and I hadn’t added things in my head correctly. My head hasn’t worked all month due to stress. Nothing has worked all month. He stopped me, ‘I said I got this,’ he said. All of this, he told me. All of my groceries.”
The final bill for Jaramillo’s items was $375. The shoppers had a brief exchange after Ludacris paid, but the entire time, Jaramillo said she never recognized him.
“We shook hands. Then I hugged him, shedding tears on the tattoo on his shoulder. I thanked him but I was so stunned that even as we made small talk (he asked me about my four dogs), I tripped over my words, all the while thinking, ‘I’m talking to an angel. Should I tell him? Should I tell him he’s an angel?'” Jaramillo recalled. “‘Who are you?’ I asked at one point, in true wonder. ‘Just a guy,’ he said. No. Not ‘just a guy.’ I thought. No.”
Ludacris asked Jaramillo, who was in tears at this point, if she needed help getting her groceries to her car and gave her another hug before leaving. He told her she was sweet to rescue dogs.
It wasn’t until he left that the cashier revealed the true identity of Jaramillo’s “angel.”
Naturally, Jaramillo “launched into the worst possible white-woman rendition” of Luda’s “Rollout (My Business)” in response to the news.
Looking back on the brief encounter, Jaramillo decided that Ludacris is “awesome run amok,” who was simply “shining a light in the world.”
She added, “What Ludacris had no way of knowing is that I can’t really afford to shop at Whole Foods. Not much, anyway. I was there because [a friend] gave me a gift card and knew I’d been shouldering a very rough time as of late. What Ludacris had no way of knowing is that my husband died of brain cancer and climbing out of that hole, emotionally, physically and financially, has devastated me for most of four years. I won’t lie. I’ve struggled in ways I didn’t know a human could struggle and still survive. What Ludacris had no way of knowing is that I’m Hurricane Katrina survivor, and I lost my mother because of that unnatural disaster. What Ludacris had no way of knowing is that his quiet kindness and generous gesture came at a moment when my candle was out.”
Jaramillo called for others to pay it forward, and she said that she planned to do the same.
“Be like Ludacris y’all,” she wrote.
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