DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — When Lil Jon was fired from Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice,” the rapper-producer fell short of the amount of money he wanted to raise for his charity.
That charity thought his efforts were just enough, though. On Tuesday, he was honored by the United Methodist Children’s Home for raising $80,000. The proceeds will be placed in an endowment fund to help educational opportunities and refurbish buildings at the sprawling 99-acre campus in suburban Atlanta. There will also be multimedia studio named after Lil Jon to help launch a music and performing arts program.
Sporting a gray suit and a black bow tie, the normally energetic Lil Jon — who is known as the “King of Crunk” — was at a loss for words. His voice trembled when the pointed out that today was the birthday of his father — who died several years ago. “I’m rarely speechless, but I’m speechless today,” Lil Jon said. “The goal was to raise awareness to this children’s home. Through the show, a lot of people got to learn about this home. Through the show, more people said they’ll make more donations. I’m happy with that.”
The 40-year-old said his initial goal was to raise $100,000. He was among the final four contestants along with John Rich, Meat Loaf and Marlee Matlin. Rich won the competition on Sunday, taking home $250,000 for his charity.
Lil Jon’s tenure ended more than a week ago after he told a panel of past “Apprentice” winners that Rich and Matlin should face off against each other rather than himself.
Terence Johnson, director of programs at the United Methodist Children’s Home, said he wouldn’t have traded in Lil Jon for any of the other show’s contestants. He said the rapper brought national awareness to the UMCH, which opened in 1871 and was originally founded as an orphanage for children who lost parents during the Civil War.
“It translates into hope,” Johnson said. “You can’t put a price tag on it. This is the spark that some of these kids need.”
Johnson said Lil Jon’s ability to help others on the show look past the negative stereotype associated with rappers, who are known for their harsh and obscene lyrics.
Lil Jon’s mother, who was in attendance, said she was proud of her son’s positive effect through his charity. “It brought back sadness,” said Lil Jon’s mother Carrie Smith-Williams, who was a foster parent. “I was so happy to see him express that without even crying. They were so close. I was proud of him.”
The charity efforts won’t stop there with Jon and his “Celebrity Apprentice” counterparts. He, Meat Loaf, Rich and Mark McGrath recently released the “Stand In The Storm,” a song that will benefit each of their charities. “It’s all about us doing more to help the cause — even after ‘The Apprentice,'” Lil Jon said.