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LL Cool J gives back in his hometown for Christmas

The rapper/actor’s Queens, New York, neighborhood was filled with surprise

It’s not every day that your Secret Santa is a big celebrity. The Greater Allen AME Cathedral Church in the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, New York, held its annual Christmas gift giveaway and participants may have gotten the best Christmas surprise ever: Rapper, actor, author and entrepreneur LL Cool J showed up with gift-wrapped presents for about 675 families and their 1,700 children.

A church representative said LL Cool J donated 100 toy basketballs and footballs of all sizes for the kids and more. Most importantly, he gave the gift of his time by greeting children and families with hugs while taking selfies.


“If my power and my influence and my ability to say a kind word can go a little further to inspire a couple of kids to do something good, you know, each one, teach one,” LL Cool J told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.

“I’m just glad I can do this. Nothing’s more important than remembering where you came from. A lot of times people forget that.”

According to CNN, the star also distributed food and clothing to the community, where almost one in five single-parent households live in poverty.

LL Cool J, whose real name is James Todd Smith, is the host of Lip Sync Battle on Spike and star of CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles. Before that, he was one of the “forefathers” of the rap industry. He has released 13 studio albums that include hits such as I Need Love, I’m Bad, Rock the Bells and Around the Way Girl. He made it to the big screen in Any Given Sunday, Deliver Us From Eva, In Too Deep and S.W.A.T.

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Kelley Evans is a digital producer at Andscape. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic Southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.