Bronx rapper Slick Rick became a freshly sworn-in U.S. citizen Friday, marking the end of his decades-long battle against deportation.
The English-born “La-Di-Da-Di” performer — who rose to fame with collaborator Doug E. Fresh and the Get Fresh Crew — fought hard for the milestone.
Immigrations officials tried to kick him out of the country several times after he pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder in 1991 and spent five years in prison.
“I am so proud of this moment — and so honored to finally become an American citizen,” Rick, whose real name is Ricky Walters, said Friday in a statement.
The eye-patch-wearing star has long maintained he fired his gun in self-defense during the 1990 incident.
He said the cousin who was wounded along with an innocent bystander previously threatened his mom’s life and his own.
Still, his plea deal meant he was a British citizen convicted of a violent crime, and officials wanted him gone.
Authorities nearly got their way in 2002 when Walters was arrested in Florida while trying to return from a Caribbean concert cruise with singer Erykah Badu.
It was less than a year after 9/11, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service was operating in an era of heightened security.
Actors Will Smith and Chris Rock and Def Jam founder Russell Simmons rushed to Walters’ defense and encouraged fans to push for his eventual release.
Walters’ biggest victory came in 2008 when New York Gov. David A. Paterson pardoned him a controversial decision that some criticized as special treatment for a celebrity.
In granting the rare unconditional pardon, Paterson cited Walters’ model behavior behind bars, his clean record after his release and his philanthropic work counseling against violence.
“This has been a long time coming for me, and I am relieved to finally put this long chapter behind me,” Walters said after he was sworn-in Friday in an official ceremony alongside dozens of other new citizens in New York.
“I want to thank everyone — my family, friends and fans — who have supported me and stuck by me over these 23 years. I am truly blessed, and stay tuned, I will have more to announce soon.”
He later posted a picture to Instagram of an American flag-themed eye patch with the caption, “#SlickRickVictory.”
Source: NY Daily News