After being held hostage for a decade, Amanda Berry’s name was splashed across headlines in May when she and two other women were finally rescued. Just one day after her captor received a life sentence, the 27-year-old made her first public appearance at Cleveland’s Roverfest on Saturday, when Nelly brought her onstage.
When MTV News caught up with Nelly, he explained that the moment wasn’t planned in advance and detailed why Berry is a huge inspiration to him.
“I had a chance to meet and greet fans before the show and she was there with her family and friends,” Nelly explained. “After we took pictures we had a chance to sit down and talk, and I told her that she and her family were more than welcome to come up on the side of the stage and they did.”
Concert footage shows the St. Louis rapper summoning Amanda to the stage and dedicating “Just a Dream” to her, as the crowd cheered on. “When we got to ’Just a Dream,’ I wanted to make sure that we had a chance to acknowledge her,” he said.
“When you meet someone who’s been through something as traumatic as that you really don’t know what to say or how to act. 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 calmed down a little bit.”
Nelly maintains that he didn’t expect the moment to attract so much media attention, when his intentions were simply to show some love and support to Berry for surviving such a difficult ordeal.
“I just wanted Cleveland to know that we were proud of her and that the strength and the pulse of the city is built around the people,” he said. “To see her survive that, I thought it was amazing and it inspired me to do almost anything.”