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'GSU, I am home right now' | Atlanta rapper Ludacris awarded honorary degree before delivering commencement speech

The Grammy-award-winning rapper credits GSU for helping him jumpstart his music career.

ATLANTA — Trading in his gold chains for a cap and gown, Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges made sure to "Rollout" to Georgia State University's commencement ceremony with his swag and a new degree.

Ludacris crossed the stage Wednesday and received an honorary bachelor's degree from GSU.

It was a moment that was decades in the making. The rapper attended the university in the late 1990s, interrupting his collegiate career to sign with Def Jam Records, catapulting him to music stardom.

"I can see now, this is the livest graduation in history right now," he said to GSU's Class of 2022.

Walking to the podium with Atlanta swagger and his shades, GSU awarded the Grammy-award-winning rapper a Bachelor of Science in Music Management, a nod to when he first stepped foot on campus to learn "the business behind music."

"This is very special to me," the rapper said after proudly holding up his first degree. "GSU, I am home right now."

Though he never finished his course load, Ludacris held close ties to GSU participating as an artist-in-residence in 2019 and even working with the college of law to create a course "The Legal Life of Ludacris," a class that analyzed his strategic business and legal decisions. 

Ludacris, however, took a moment to say that he did not become the "Money Maker" that he is today without his support system.

"It's very important to me that I let everybody know that I brought my personal village with me today," he said.

He pointed out his wife, daughters, family, friends, godmother, management and his mother, asking them to bask in the moment with him.

"Thank you, village, for helping me be the best me I could be," he said. "And Momma - I think I speak for all of the graduates when I say this - Momma I made it."

Nodding to his "Growing Pains" throughout his career, he joked with his mother from the stage to revel at the moment that neither were sure would come.

"Mom, I know that you questioned my decisions to leave college but hopefully all is forgiven as you decide which one of our private planes you want to take to your new homes in the islands," he said with a laugh.

The multi-platinum artist then pivoted to his commencement speech to the graduates.

"Welcome to Atlanta where the players play," he said, quoting Jermaine Dupri's song that featured the rapper.

He hyped up the crowd, asking them to celebrate this milestone, and know their community is celebrating with them -- reiterating to GSU officials he was not about to "Act a Fool."

"We are anticipating your greatness," he said to a crowd wearing caps and gowns. "These are critical times and we are desperately in need of new leaders and agents of change."

Taking a more serious tone, he continued his heartfelt speech to the graduates, adding the United States falls short when living up to its brand as the land of the free and equality.

"America's promised is unfulfilled," he said, listing mass shootings and homelessness while declaring the country's political and judicial institutions taking away rights for his opinion.

He said it was time for the graduates to "Stand Up" and be the change the country needs, and help the U.S. take the "Number One Spot."

"Our society wants positive change, they're clamoring for it," he said. "Nobody said life will be easy but living in your why will make your life worth it."

Ludacris, who is known for his substantial commitment to the Atlanta community, offered graduates a piece of advice as they moved on to the next step in their life journey.

"Live every day like everything good and bad will happen to you," he said. "So, invest in the importance of this world...be tomorrow's future."

Watch Ludacris' full commencement speech in the video below.