Tyler Perry was the keynote speaker at the 25th annual 5000 Role Models of Excellence scholarship program, an organization that provides mentorship and support to at-risk young men.
“But I looked at your faces coming down the aisle and I got emotional,” he told the crowd of hundreds at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day scholarship breakfast, held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center. “When I saw your faces I thought, I gotta get in on this.”
Perry was so inspired by the event that he was moved to write a $100,000 check from his seat on stage. He was encouraged to speak at the event by South Florida Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, who founded the program in 1993. The two hit it off after Tyler sent flowers to her office following her high-profile argument with Donald Trump after the death of Miami Gardens Sgt. La David Johnson.
Johnson was a graduate of the 5000 Role Models program and a family friend of Wilson’s.
As reported by the Miami Herald, earlier this month, the 5000 Role Models group awarded Johnson’s pregnant wife and two children a scholarship trust with $800,000 they had crowdfunded to pay for the children’s education.
“Every time I see a young black man I think of my son,” Perry said. “He’s 3. He’s the love of my life.”
Perry also shared a father and son moment he had with his toddler during a recent walk on the beach together. When his son was running and jumping to “catch up with his father” he announced that he was “following in his dad’s footsteps.” The movie mogul told his baby boy that instead of jumping to meet his father’s stride, he should hold his hand and walk beside him. At the end of their walk, Perry turned, pointed and said, “Look at your footprints, you left your own path.”
That was Tyler’s message to this year’s class of 58 Wilson scholars.
Perry also became an honorary member of the group during the event and was dressed in the customary red tie by fellow mentors of the program.
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