Once a heroin addict, young Michael Grant managed to turn his life around and become Philly Jesus, one of Philadelphia’s most iconic characters. Since April last year, the 28-year-old has been hanging out at LOVE park, in Center City, dressed as Jesus Christ. “I’m not the real Jesus,” he admits upfront. “I’m just a huge fan. I’m doing it as a walking billboard for the King of Kings.”
Every day, Grant walks seven miles to LOVE Park, carrying with him a 12-foot wooden cross with wheels at the bottom that he made himself. “This is my way of letting my light shine, by carrying a cross in the ‘hood’,” he explained. “This is my way of sharing Jesus without preaching a blow horn and condemning people. It’s like making a statement. When they look at me, I don’t want them to see Michael, I want them to see Jesus.”
Grant, who was raised in a Catholic family, is the older of two brothers. His mother says that he was always a creative child, did theater and loved drawing. He even went to a clown school, where he learned to juggle knives and torches. “He liked people’s reactions, so he always liked reaching people that way,” she said.