Man Helps Former Inmate Of 12 Years Get Back On His Feet Proving Everyone Deserves A Second Chance

A bittersweet moment as one man helps his new friend get back on his feet and home to his family.

Man helping former inmate TikTok TikTok

Joshua Thomas Liljenquist (@joshlilj) centers his TikTok content around helping people in need, and recently, he helped out a man named John who stole the hearts of millions of people online.

On May 24, 2023, Joshua posted a 2-minute video featuring John where he asked him about what his life looked like right now and what he wanted to do with it — briefly explaining his hardships.

John had just been released from prison where he spent the last 12 years of his life.

Upon his approach, Joshua asked John how he was doing and what he was up to. It looked like he was waiting for a bus or something, but had a bag with him and some belongings nearby. He responded, “I just got out of prison man.” All the things near him were everything he had to his name as he had just spent the last 12 years in prison for drug trafficking charges.


“I used to be a drug dealer. I’m trying to do the right thing, but I ain’t got no money, I ain’t got nothing man,” John explains. “I just got out this morning.” Joshua is unphased by the story he had to tell and even says “Congratulations!” to the man before asking him if there’s anything he can do to help.



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John asks if he could spare a few dollars, reiterating that he has nothing — that all he’s eaten for the last 12 years is prison food, and revealing that he lives in a halfway house in downtown Minneapolis. “You’re in luck man because I’m out blessing people today,” Joshua says, handing him a $100 bill. John’s emotional and asks for a hug, but it doesn’t end there.

John explains how he’s working on getting a new phone and tells Joshua to give him his number so that when he gets one, they can stay in touch.

“And then we can go get some lunch or do whatever,” Joshua adds to their hypothetical. “Yeah, man! You wanna go to McDonald’s?” John continues adding, but Joshua takes him seriously. “You want to go now?”

Joshua takes John to McDonald’s and they get ice cream together.

Joshua and John hang out together, have some McDonald’s eat their ice cream, and when they’re all said and done it’s about time for them to part way, but Joshua said that wouldn’t be the end, and he’s right.


In a second video, Joshua takes John around to some stores where he applies for a job and then back to McDonald’s where they talk about his life story.



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“I’m trying to do something better with my life, I want better for me,” he explains.


former inmate john second chancePhoto: @joshlilj / TikTok

He claims that his mother abandoned him when he was young, and so his grandfather, who unfortunately passed away, took them in. His relationship with his father is a little shaky, but he doesn’t have a lot of family left so he says “Don’t get me wrong, I love my pops.”

He talks about how he hates being a bum and hates being talked about like a bum, and how much he wants to change his life for the better, so by the end of the video, Joshua asks him how he’d get to work if any of the jobs he applied for hired him.


John claims he’d take the bus, but Joshua had a better idea and told him he’d start a GoFundMe to see what they could do for him.

Joshua’s GoFundMe raised over $11,000 for John.

In a third video, Joshua reveals that his GoFundMe raised $11,197 for an ecstatic John. “What the f--k man! Thank you, man! D--n dude,” he exclaims before going in for a hug. “Thank you, man, God is good.”

Having that gift to fall back on is key to staying out of prison, as the Prison Policy Initiative reports that "formerly incarcerated people are most likely to be homeless in the period shortly after their release" and often face discrimination when it comes to applying for jobs. 

John then explains what he’s going to use the money for, and that’s to go to Mississippi. In the comments, Joshua reveals that John has family in Memphis (right on the border of Mississippi) that he wanted to go see, and so they went together to a Greyhound terminal to get him a bus ticket for Memphis.




“Yeah, I would like to buy a ticket to Memphis,” John excitedly tells the people behind the counter. “It’s kind of like a sad but happy moment man,” Joshua says, sad that his friend would be leaving. “I know, I know bro. I just can’t wait to get home man,” John responds, holding his head in his hands.

After the ticket is done and purchased, they took one last trip to get John some of his favorite food before getting on the road — McDonald’s. Their spirits are high and the mood is lifted as Joshua and John enjoy their last McDonald’s trip together.


When Joshua helps John onto the bus, however, he gets emotional, but John lets him know that they’ll stay in touch. “I’m serious, I’m going to call you bro, don’t cry bro,” to which Joshua replies “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later.”

John and Joshua repeatedly exchange some “I love you”s here and there, and John makes sure to ask him if they’ll stay in touch, replying that of course they would.

John’s willingness to change and improve his life proves that everyone deserves a second chance, and Joshua was glad that he was the person that could provide him with one.

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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.