“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.” That’s how one commenter succinctly put it when Jeremy Meeks — best known as the “hot felon” and variations thereof — recently posted sweet Christmas photos of himself and his family to Instagram.
Meeks has come a long way since his mugshot went viral after he was arrested in June 2014 on weapons charges, according to the New York Post. The 32-year-old’s chiseled features and red-hot gaze had legions of Internet users transfixed — and even prompted women to ask to be “locked up with him,” says the publication. But good looks get you nowhere in the legal system, as Meeks learned upon being charged with “five weapons offenses and two counts relating to gang membership,” according to the Daily Mail. The California native served a 27-week prison sentence and was released in March 2016.
Talent agencies took notice of the viral sensation, though, and one of them — White Cross Management — was willing to forgive his criminal past and sign him to a modeling contract while he was still incarcerated, says the Independent. Since his release, Meeks has starred in major ad campaigns for brands including Givenchy, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Tom Ford, and Hugo Boss. His manager says Meeks has received offers from all over the world.
The one-time forklift operator’s lucrative new modeling career has helped set Meeks on a positive new course, and his lifestyle has clearly taken a 180-degree turn. Though the former felon has posted pictures of himself posing in front of his mansion and glamorous sports car, his most recent photos show that he’s found happiness in what matters most in his life: his family.
In one pic, Meeks sports a sweet expression — in contrast to the smolder we’re used to — while standing in front of the Christmas tree with his family: his wife and their three children. He captioned the photo with hashtags that include #blessed and #godisgood.
In another, Meeks and his equally gorgeous wife, Melissa Curl, are standing in a vineyard, as he clutches her and she clutches a bottle of wine. “Celebrating our 8 year anniversary today and 50 more to go. Through thick and thin!” According to New York magazine, the pair met when she was a nurse with two children, and proceeded to have a son of their own. “Meeks was brought up in a poor household and began his life of crime after becoming involved with the Northern Crips — a branch of the notorious Los Angeles gang,” says the Daily Mail, and Curl stuck it out through all of his misguided trials and tribulations.
Though Meeks led a life of crime throughout his youth, by his manager’s account, he’s a “soft-spoken family man” who was overwhelmed by all the attention he received when his mugshot went viral. In fact, New York says that it was his shame at being arrested in 2014 that led Meeks to pose coyly with his head tilted downward — he was actually trying to cover the gang-related tattoos on his neck.
The photos on Meeks’ Instagram — where he’s garnered 623,000 fans — do depict a changed man who appears to have his values in order: They’re either modeling shots or pics of time spent with family. One group Halloween shot is particularly adorable.
His fans have been extremely supportive. While they showed up for his outer beauty — steel-blue eyes, devastating cheekbones, a plump pout, and muscles for days — they’ve stayed for his inner beauty. “Glad life is turning around for you & your family…..hope you stay blessed, humble & in abundance of wonderful opportunities, one person wrote. “The fact u love your wife is a beautiful thing. Your wife is gorgeous, congratulations,” another commented.
Meeks captioned one of his own photos “good to be home.” When home is a lavish mansion filled with the loves of your life, we imagine being there is a lot more than good; it’s pretty incredible.