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Singer Jelly Roll Reveals 'Damascus Road' Moment He Says Took Him From Drugs and Prison to the Top of the Charts

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Singer Jelly Roll has had a checkered past, having spent around 40 times behind bars for drug charges.

But he said it was his daughter’s birth in 2008 that forced him to rethink his entire life, likening the watershed moment to Paul’s Damascus Road encounter in Scripture.

Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start”

Arrests started for the 39-year-old — whose birth name is Jason DeFord — when he was just a 14-year-old teen. His struggles ran deep, with drug use plaguing his life.

“I had to learn that you could drink alcohol without doing cocaine,” he told People magazine. “It took me a long time to learn that. I’ve never said that, but that’s real.”

Underscoring the severity of his issues, Jelly Roll added, “There was a long time where I just assumed, when people told me they drank without doing cocaine, I was like, I thought we only drank to do cocaine.”

Jelly Roll said he was in jail for crack cocaine when his daughter Bailee, 15, was born.

That moment seemed to have a profound impact on the singer, who likened it to the “Christian Scripture of when Saul turned into Paul on the Damascus Road.”

A few decades later, Jelly Roll is on top of the musical world, producing hit songs and nabbing Grammy nominations, as People magazine reported.

But the singer hasn’t forgotten his past, and he said he likes to give back to those in need. When the magazine reached him for an interview, he was on his way to play music at a prison. And he said he visits rehab and juvenile centers to encourage those struggling.

“I always said that if I ever got in this situation, I would do everything I could to give back,” he told the outlet. “The fact that just me showing up places can make people happy is such a gift, and I feel like, if God gave me that gift, I should show up.”

Jelly Roll’s relationship with faith is complex, as he indicated in an interview with last summer. Speaking about redemption, he praised the concept, spoke about how he views God and the church, and reflected on Bailee’s baptism.

“And then you start thinking about redemption,” he said. “Outside of religion, the idea of being able to be redeemed is just a great idea. The idea that who we were is not who we are is so powerful.”

Jelly Roll still has his struggles but is continuing to avoid hard drugs. Pray for him for resilience, true faith, and peace as his fame increases. And read more about his story here.

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About The Author

Billy Hallowell writes for CBN's He has been working in journalism and media for more than a decade. His writings have appeared in CBN News, Faithwire, Deseret News, TheBlaze, Human Events, Mediaite, PureFlix, and Fox News, among other outlets. He is the author of several books, including Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation Into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts Hallowell has a B.A. in journalism and broadcasting from the College of Mount Saint Vincent in Riverdale, New York and an M.S. in social research from Hunter College in Manhattan, New York.