Why did rapper Jelly Roll go to prison?
Jelly Roll is known for a lot of things—he’s a big guy with a bigger personality and a music career that’s expanding by the year.
The heavy—and heavily tattooed—entertainer has an engaging personality and a whole lot of charisma.
He’s also got a colorful past, and he’s open to sharing it with fans and followers to help them avoid the pitfalls and traps that he landed in.
So, what is there to know about Jelly Roll and his history as a young thug running around Antioch, Tennessee?
Read on to uncover some fascinating facts about the heavy-hitting Tennessee rapper.
#1 Does Jason suffer from anxiety?
Yes—and he wants his young fans to be aware of it.
“This is something I think people really need to hear,” said the charismatic rapper with the booming Southern twang.
Jelly Roll is grateful for the life he’s got now, but he knows things could have taken a much worse turn for him if he hadn’t found his way onto the right path a few years back.
Jelly Roll—whose real name is Jason DeFord—spoke on the I’m Listening podcast in 2021 about how he has dealt with crippling mental health issues. He explained that he woke up one day and didn’t want to get out of bed.
“I didn’t know why. I could not pinpoint [it].”
Open about the struggles he was facing at the time, DeFord said it felt as though there was a cloud over his bed, and that it was too much even to push his blanket off of him.
The depression he was coping with also triggered his anxiety, and set off a long spiral of self-doubt and paranoia. The country rap star said he wondered if the feeling was a “bad omen.”
Scared that something bad was going to happen to somebody around him, or that something would happen to him, pushed him further into his depression until it became crippling.
“The next thing you know, you’re checking your blood pressure for no reason.”
By sharing his struggle with others, Jelly Roll hopes to shake some of the stigma around mental health issues and encourage people to reach out and find support.
Even in his childhood, DeFord believes he was dealing with depression and anxiety.
In the early 90s, in a struggling Southside neighborhood of Nashville, though, the common response to his struggles was to “brush it off” and ignore what he was going through.
#2 Did DeFord go to prison?
Despite DeFord’s attempts to reach out and get support for his mental health issues, he went untreated for years.
It is that lack of support and empathy that Jelly Roll now realizes started him on the downward spiral of self-medication and crime.
Armed with a new understanding and self-awareness that he’s grown as an adult, DeFord realizes that his need for acceptance drove a lot of his behaviors.
“When you feel like nobody accepts you, there’s always that one group that will. And [that group] is always trouble.”
#3 Why Did Jelly Roll go to prison?
After facing down his first court case at 14 years old, Jason would spend more than a decade in and out of prison for charges ranging from probation violations to drug possession to aggravated robbery to intent to distribute cocaine.
“I thought I’d throw my whole life away,” Jason said in an interview on Bobby Bones Show in nearly 2023. “So many nights I cried in that. So, you’re 16 years old looking at 30 years, imagine that. They’re trying to give you more time than you’ve been alive.”
#4 How did DeFord get his life together?
Spending a total of 12 years in prison in his younger years gave Jelly Roll a lot of time to think—and to soak up the rap styles of artists like Three 6 Mafia, Paul Wall, and UGK.
He started writing his own rhymes as a form of therapy and to excise some demons.
In a 2019 interview, he explained that his music is based on emotions and stories from his life, and from the environment he grew up in.
He hoped that one day people could find encouragement and feel his message of perseverance through dark times.
As he was crafting his talents as a rapper, DeFord got one of the biggest wake-up calls he could have imagined.
A prison guard knocked on his cell door to announce that Jason was now a father—his oldest daughter had just been born.
By his own admission, DeFord had a really good father, and he wanted to be that for his daughter.
He didn’t want her to see the life he was living then.
While he was in prison, his baby’s mother passed away—giving the aspiring rapper even more motivation to turn his life around.
Upon his release from prison, Jelly Roll started on that grind, trading in crime for music and releasing a prolific discography over the next decade.
In early 2023, Jason performed for prison inmates where he served time.
READ MORE: Jelly Roll: all the vital stats
#5 Is Jason married?
Yes, he is.
Jason DeFord and Bunnie XO celebrated 6 years of wedded bliss on August 31, 2022.
The loved-up rap star uploaded a sentimental celebratory post to his Instagram on the day, in which he celebrated the day he and his wife “stumbled into court house [sic] drunk and got married.”
He went on to say that it was the best decision he’s made in his entire life.
The pair have children of their own, and also have full custody of Jason’s eldest daughter.