Rapper Nelly tells MTV News why he brought Amanda Berry on stage at a recent show in Cleveland.
On Thursday, Ariel Castro — the man who kidnapped, raped and assaulted Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight for more than a decade — was sentenced to life in prison without the chance for parole plus an additional 1,000 years. But just days before his sentencing, it was one of the women who made headlines as she moved on with her life.
Berry joined rapper Nelly on stage at his RoverFest concert in Cleveland on Saturday, and the 27-year-old survivor was all smiles as she waved to the crowd of supporters who cheered her on.
But what led to her surprise appearance at that show? Nelly spoke to MTV News about his choice to bring out the woman he says "inspired" him.
"I had a chance to meet and greet fans before the show and she was there with her family and friends," he said. "I asked if she wanted to hang around, her and her family were more than welcome to come up on the side of the stage and they did. ... I just wanted to make sure we had a chance to acknowledge her."
Just as important to Nelly was that he could acknowledge her in a way that she was comfortable with.
"When you kind of meet someone who's been through something as traumatic as that, you really don't know what to say or how to act," he admitted. "You know, it's one of those situations where you follow their lead with things. ... When she smiled, we smiled and when she didn't smile, we kind of calmed down a little bit."
During Berry's moment on stage, Nelly dedicated his hit "Just a Dream" (which features the line "Will she come back? No one knows" in the chorus) to her.
"I just wanted Cleveland to know that we were proud of her," he told MTV News.
The rapper explained that Berry's story of survival amazed him. "It inspired me to do almost anything," he said.
But while he was happy to honor Berry at his show, he insisted he had no idea the act would get so much attention.
"I didn't think it would be that big of a deal," he said.
First published August 1 2013, 10:02 AM