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Memphis native and comedian Grovehero honored for buying back his Frayser community to help others

“It doesn’t seem real that I could be able to buy me some food. I could buy me something to wear because I had nothing,” said Grovehero.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis has a way of making its way into our hearts.

For those of us who call it home, we never leave its side.

Now, a celebrity comedian is making an impact right here at home.

It is not about saying what you’re going to do. It’s about doing what you said you would do. Memphis native and comedian, Mario “Grovehero” Bradley is literally buying back his block.

“I’m working now, so don’t judge right now. It’ll be done before Christmas,” said Mario ‘Grovehero’ Bradley, a Memphis native and comedian.

It is a work in progress special to the man with a master plan.

Grovehero grew up in Frayser in his great grandmother’s home.

“It was like 18 of us who lived in here," said Grovehero. “I just thought I was going to be here forever because it’s so hard. Everybody sells dope. Everybody robs. Everybody kills around here. That’s all I was accustomed to seeing. I thought I was going to be stuck over here the rest of my life.”

He thought he would be stuck until skill met opportunity.

“It really started from here. It’s like I just used to be out here checking and playing with folks all day. They used to be like, ‘Boy, you need to get into comedy,’” said Grovehero.

Posting videos to social media, Grovehero went viral and now travels the country on comedy tours.

“It doesn’t seem real that I could be able to buy me some food. I could buy me something to wear because I had nothing,” said Grovehero.

He never forgot home, investing thousands into the Frayser community, buying back his family home, three other properties, and several lots.

“I just bought the other houses to do the rent-free to help people. There’s so many people struggling out here and folks don’t really care. I was like I’m just going to buy as many houses as I can and help as many people as I can,” said Grovehero.

Those who move into the homes can stay rent-free for one year.

While Grovehero gives, his community pours back into him.

Tuesday, Black Men Crowned and Tennessee State Representative London Lamar presented Grovehero with the Black Men Crowned Grit award, a state proclamation, and a key to the county.

“It was my goal to create a space for us to feel honored, for us to feel like royalty and for us to celebrate our many accomplishments,” said Justin Hart, Black Men Crowned creator. “There’s no certain look or attire that goes with making an impact in the community. I think when people view success, they immediately create this image of you’ve got to be in a suit and tie... He’s making just as much of an impact as an attorney or doctor.”

“In order for us to really bridge the gap between politics and culture, we’re going to have to bring people who can connect with the culture and people on the ground and get them to be able to uplift them, so they can make social impact and social change,” said Rep. Lamar.

That change is shown in the change Grovehero is making right in Frayser.

“I’ve got to do it. If I don’t do it, who else is going to do it,” asked Grovehero.

We asked, “What does Memphis mean to you?”

“Everything. I know a lot of people don’t care about the city the way I care about the city. I feel people should put the guns down. Don’t worry about any negativity and keep moving like us to come together. That’s what it’s all about,” said Grovehero.

His work has come full circle with a plan for change.