The man deemed the ‘Hot Felon’ when his mugshot made a splash on the internet, with his striking good looks and piercing blue eyes, is opening up about his long journey from prison to the top of the modeling industry.
In a candid interview, Jeremy Meeks, 35, got real about his harrowing upbringing that included a heroin-addicted mother and a father who was a convicted murderer, as well as being shot five times at 15 that led to him to serving his own hard time behind bars.
‘So, my childhood was very, very dark,’ Meeks began the lengthy interview with Chelsea Grayson for her video series What’s Your Water.
Revealing: Jeremy Meeks, 35, opened up about his childhood, road to prison and eventual redemption as a top male model in the world
‘Both of my parents were heroin addicts. I was a heroin baby,’ he continued.
The Tacoma, Washington native quickly followed up by confessing that his father murdered his mother’s best friend when he was nine-months-old because ‘he was looking for us and she was the only one who knew where we were at.’
He would stab her to death not knowing that the family had rented the apartment right above his mother’s friend.
Meeks said he had to deal with all the worst horrors of the heroin life: helping her with the horrible withdrawals, needles and [his mother’s] abusive boyfriends who were violent to him and his two siblings.
‘Growing up in a heroin household is really hard. You have to grow up really fast, and fend for yourself, and bring something to the table so that everyone can eat,’
As time and the family dramas played out, his older sister had had enough and enlisted in the military when she was 18. But, within two years, she returned and legally adopted him and their brother.
Dark and checkered past: ‘So, my childhood was very, very dark,’ Meeks began the lengthy interview with Chelsea Grayson for her video series What’s Your Water
Harrowing: Meeks said he grew up with heroin-addicted mother and father, and that his dad went to prison for 33-years for murdering his mom’s best friend
Meeks confessed that he felt like he always had a penchant ‘to make bad decisions’, and that those bad decisions, along with a learning disability, made his susceptible to the gang life when he moved from Washington State to Los Angeles in the sixth grade.
‘Next you know I’m fighting and fighting and fighting and I had to learn really fast about colors, and gangs, and neighborhoods, and sets. At a really young age, I got put on to the hood and from there, I moved out of the house at 15 and was in the streets,’ he said.
That very same year he would be sent to his first juvenile hall, get shot five times and beaten up by a gang members with baseball bats shortly after his release.
In all Meeks revealed he has spent about 10-and-a-half years behind bars in his young life, and that the experience was made even worse because he was a light-skinned mixed race.
‘For most light-skinned people, you’re not black enough and you’re not white,’ he said, while also referencing that his good looks also made him a target in prison.
Long and winding road: The Tacoma, Washington native said he always had a penchant for making bad decisions, which led him to the gang life and 10-and-a-half years behind bars
The game-changer: This 2014 mugshot of Meeks went viral and became the catalyst to leading him to international stardom as a top model
As time went on in prison he began to take stock of his life: where he had been and where he was going.
A grand theft and firearm possession conviction in 2014 would be a game-changer for his life; it was the mugshot from the arrest that would help launch him to international stardom.
His chiseled cheekbones and piecing blue eyes helped capture the hearts, compassion and, in some cases, generosity of people on the internet.
As a result, he began getting some 300 letters a day, some fans would send him money inside books, and there would be major interest from the modeling industry.
A judge would end up sentencing him to 27 months, instead of the recommended 63 months, so he could take advantage of his viral fame, which Meeks is still grateful for to this day.
‘The only thing that saved me, which was such a blessing, was my judge. He helped me in so many ways,’ he admitted.
After some initial bumps in his pursuit of his new career, Meeks is now one of the most famous models in the world.
The way we were: Meeks split from Topshop heiress Chloe Green in August; the couple have a one-year-old son
His father was eventually released from prion after serving 33-years, but Meeks has to keep a healthy distance from him, calling him, ‘still a piece of s***.’
On a brighter note, he said his mother has been doing ‘really well and that she has been clean of hard drugs for years, although she does smoke ‘a ton of weed.’
Meeks has two sons: one with ex-wife Melissa Meeks, who he was married to from 2008 to 2018, and a daughter with Topshop heiress Chloe Green. That relationship just ended this past August after Green was pictured kissing a man on a yacht in the Mediterranean.
Meeks hopes a daughter is in his future along with a career in music.
‘When I do music I want to make sure it’s a positive message, but still street, without the killing and the drugs and the bad message,’ he explained.
‘It’s kind of hard to find the balance.’
Onwards and upwards: Meeks hopes to have a daughter in the future, as well a a career in music; he’s pictured during an appearance in Las Vegas in January 2019