Jelly Roll still remembers the day clearly. It was May 22, 2008, when a prison guard visited him in his cell to inform him that his daughter had been born. He was serving time for drug dealing then and resolved to turn back from a dead end. “In that exact moment sitting there uncertain about the future, I knew that if given a second chance (technically a sixth chance at that point of my life) I would get out of jail and do everything I could to be there for her,” he wrote in a Facebook post dedicated to Bailee.

The country star immediately sprung into action and set his sights on obtaining his GED, a goal he achieved remarkably on his first attempt. “I spent less than 60 to 70 days in high school. I thought I was a real dumbass. I thought I was learning disabled,” he told Billboard. “I walked in there and smacked that b**** out of the park.”

Jelly Roll didn’t walk free from prison until Bailee was two years old, and since then, he has tried to make a living through music, initially focusing on hip-hop. His career took a turn when rapper Lil Wyte, who would become one of his closest friends, recognized Jelly Roll’s his singing talent. “I’ll never forget Wyte looking at me and going: ‘That’s what you need to do,'” he told HipHopDX. He then dabbled in singing, eventually discovering that his forte was rock and country.

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