Sometimes the smallest moments can have a huge impact on your life, and they can change your path in ways that you never imagined. Only after this moment do you realize how much you needed a lifeline – and Richard Hutchins realized that for himself in 2020. After sleeping on the streets for years, he was in need of a helping hand.
When this homeless artist found himself struggling to survive, he reached out to strangers for help but was simply ignored by passers-by. That all changed when a pickup truck stopped next to him one day and offered him an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. It was this small moment of kindness from a stranger that sparked a series of events that changed Richard’s life forever. Now, instead of surviving, he’s thriving… and he’s ready to tell his tale.
Richard Hutchins Grew up Poor, but Knew From a Young Age That He Wanted to Be an Artist
What’s so inspiring about Richard’s story is that he was knocked down countless times over the course of his life, largely due to unforeseen circumstances. But he’s picked himself back up again every single time. This stems from his early childhood when he grew up in public housing in Atlanta, Georgia.
His family was poor, which meant that Richard and his sister had to work in the cotton fields after school to make ends meet. And while there was little time for fun or being a child, the young boy spent every spare second of his free time making art. His passion for being creative began when he was six, and it only got stronger the older he got.
Richard Was Inspired to Be Just Like His Uncle, Who Was a Full-Time Professional Artist
Richard was introduced to the idea of painting and drawing by his uncle, who worked as a professional artist. The young boy was in awe of his uncle’s talent and confessed that “I used to look over his shoulder and see what he was doing. I would try to imitate him.” However, with little money to his family name, Hutchins had to improvise.
As he didn’t have any pencils or paints of his own, Richard would use free items he found at work or school. He noted that “During a lunch break or dinner break, I would sit down and take brown lunch bags and use twigs from the fire and draw charcoal figures.” What he didn’t realize at the time was that this DIY artistry would come in handy during his longest stint in jail.
After Getting Involved in the Wrong Crowd, Richard Left Atlanta to Focus On His Art
Although Richard Hutchins was set on being an artist and spent most of his time practicing his skills, he was still a kid who made mistakes. And during his teenage years, he found himself mixing with the wrong crowd. These youngsters would often get in trouble with the law – and Richard felt the full force of this friendship.
Richard landed himself in jail a few times – but these stints were nothing compared to the sentence he served a few years later. At the time, he knew that he needed to make a change if he were ever to become a professional artist, so he decided to leave Atlanta in 1992 in search of a new life in Los Angeles. This plan worked perfectly, but only for a while.
Richard Eventually Became a Full-Time Artist, but He Decided to Create His Work Under an Alias
Over the course of his artistic journey, Richard had honed in on a passion and a skill that he loved more than anything. He loved painting portraits, and while he painted portraits of anyone who inspired him – he particularly loved painting celebrity portraits. This skill proved to be priceless in the bright lights of Los Angeles.
Within just a few months of moving to the City of Angels, Richard had established himself as a well-known artist – but he decided not to use his own name. He sold his paintings under the alias of Drew Hill, the name of one of his favorite former NFL football players. By using this name, he was able to attract the attention of countless celebrity clients. Everything seemed to be going so well.
He Even Became an Artist in Residence Before His Whole Life and Career Crumbled Around Him
For a while, Richard was on cloud nine. He was producing work for people he’d only ever seen on television or in the movies, and he was being appreciated for his work. He’d finally achieved his dream of being a professional artist – and things got even more exciting when he was offered the chance to become an artist-in-residence at Infinity Studio in Santa Monica.
For five years, Hutchins lived and worked at the studio, being paid to produce his incredible work. He often had to pinch himself that he was actually living his life, as it seemed too good to be true. However, it seems as though that feeling was simply foreshadowing the day that his life changed forever… the day that he got arrested.
Hutchins Ended up in Jail for Two Years, During Which Time He Drew Portraits on Envelopes Using Anything He Could Find
Although Hutchins had spent short stints in jail before, he knew this time was different. Not only did he have more to lose as he was much older and more established, but he also claimed to be innocent of the crime that he was being accused of. Unfortunately, he was told that his case could take up to two years to go to trial – which meant that he needed to pass the time. Thankfully, he had his art.
To keep himself busy in Los Angeles County Jail, Richard drew around 15 portraits every day. Without any paper, he drew them on envelopes, and without any paint or other art supplies, he made colored dye from Kool-Aid, Skittles, coffee, and more. He confessed that “I had to get creative with whatever I could find.”
He Sent These Custom-Drawn Envelopes to Anyone and Everyone, Including Barack Obama
Richard didn’t just draw on these envelopes for himself, though. Although he was incarcerated, he still wanted to show the world that he was a talented and dedicated artist – and he wanted to keep his name flowing through the art world. So, he decided to send these envelopes to anyone and everyone he had an address for. He even sent one to former POTUS, Barack Obama.
He sent them to friends, family, and people whose addresses he found in newspapers. He confessed that “Everywhere I had an address, I would send them. I did it to pass the time away. We spent almost 23 hours a day in a cell, and that was part of my escape.” However, he rarely received a reply from the people he sent them to.
After Being Found Not Guilty, Hutchins Returned to His Artist in Residency Before Life Turned Against Him Again
All in all, Hutchins drew these envelope portraits for two years before his case finally went to trial. After being found not guilty of the crime he was accused of in 2015, he was allowed to leave his cell and return home – and for a while, everything seemed to be back to normal.
Richard had been given his artist in residency back, and he was a full-time artist once again with a roof over his head. And while he was over the moon to have his freedom back, he soon realized that, once again, his life was just too good to be true. Just a few months after Richard was released from jail, his life quite literally went up in flames.
Sadly, a Fire at the Art Studio Meant That Richard Lost Over 800 Pieces of His Artwork
In December 2015, Richard Hutchins finally felt like his life was back on track. While he had lost two years of his life, he was determined to make the next few years count – but then he awoke to the news that there had been a fire at the Infinity Studio where he worked. Sadly, the whole studio was destroyed.
Everything inside the studio was also destroyed, which meant that Hutchins lost everything. He noted that “It destroyed my life. I lost about 800 pieces of work; my sketches, my finished paintings.” Hutchins couldn’t believe it. He had put everything into those creations, and now they were gone. He just didn’t know what to do.
After Losing His Work, His Home, and His Job, Hutchins Was Homeless for Six Years
The fire not only cost Richard his artwork, but it also cost him his whole livelihood. His artist in residency served as his full-time job and his home – which meant that he was left with nothing. He had a little money saved up in his bank account, which meant that he could stay in hotels for a short while. But soon his money ran out.
With no money or job left to his name, Hutchins had no choice but to move to the streets. He became homeless and joined the thousands of men and women living on Skid Row in Los Angeles, and he stayed there for six years. Then, everything changed when a blue truck pulled up next to him in a supermarket parking lot on April 4th, 2021.
In April 2021, Social Media Star Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley Pulled up Next to Richard on the Street
After years of living on the street, Hutchins was used to people passing him by and not giving him any attention. To them, he was just another homeless man begging for money – and the majority of people didn’t want to help. However, this all changed when entrepreneur and social media sensation Charlie “Rocket” Jabaley pulled up in his Jeep next to him.
Charlie and his friend said hi to Richard, and they struck up a casual conversation – largely about Charlie’s impressive blue Jeep. Richard told Charlie that “I like your car” and could see that the social media star seemed like a nice guy. What he didn’t realize was that the man in front of him wanted to change his life, and was going to give Richard every opportunity to succeed once again.
Charlie Asked Richard a Little More About His Life, and He Was Incredibly Raw and Honest About His Story
As Richard struck up a casual conversation with Charlie, he had no idea that the man in front of him was a man with one million Instagram followers – and millions in the bank. Charlie originally made his money as a music manager and entrepreneur but has since been using his fame and fortune to change the lives of those less fortunate. After spotting Richard on the street, he decided to make him his next project.
Charlie didn’t want to tell Richard his plan, though. To begin with, he wanted to learn a little more about the homeless man and the circumstances surrounding his situation. Both men bonded over the fact that they were both born and raised in Atlanta, and then Richard spoke honestly about the events that led him to the streets.
Richard Had No Idea That Charlie Had Previously Helped Countless People Turn Their Lives Around
As Charlie listened to Richard’s story, he knew that he had to help him. But Richard wouldn’t be the first person he’s helped. Over the past few years, Charlie has selflessly given people money, offered them opportunities, found them jobs, and completely transformed their lives. In fact, he’d even set up his own non-profit called the Dream Machine.
What inspired Charlie the most was Richard’s relentless drive to continue his career as an artist, despite the fact that he’d been dealt countless setbacks over the years. He knew that he wanted to help Richard turn his life around, but first, he needed the answer to a very important question. So, he asked Richard… “What’s your dream?”
Although Richard Thought Charlie Was Just Passing By, He Was Surprised When He Asked for His Phone Number
Charlie couldn’t believe Richard’s response to his question. While the homeless man could have told him that his dream was to have a home of his own or a million dollars in the bank, he didn’t. Instead, Richard told Charlie that his biggest dream of all was to have his work hung in a museum or an art gallery.
Even when his life seemed to be hanging in the balance, Richard was still focused on his work – which just solidified Charlie’s decision to help him. So, after their unexpected conversation came to an end, Richard was surprised when Charlie asked him for his phone number. He didn’t know why he’d want it. But he’d soon understand Charlie’s plan.
The Next Day, Charlie Bought Richard $2,000 Worth of Art Supplies Out of His Own Pocket
Although Richard assumed that his phone number would simply get lost and he’d never hear from Charlie again, he was taken aback when he got a phone call the next day from the social media star. Charlie told him that he wanted to meet him again, and he arranged to pick Richard up so that they could go somewhere special; the art supplies store.
Amazingly, Charlie bought the artist a whopping $2,000 worth of supplies – all out of his own pocket. “I told him to get what he needed and not to worry about it,” Charlie said. Hutchins was overwhelmed by the offer, and couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Richard confessed that “I didn’t know this man for 24 hours, and he put my life on a new path”. However, this was just the start of Charlie’s plan.
Charlie Also Organized a Website for Richard, and Sold $50,000 Worth of His Art in Less Than Four Hours
Charlie could tell that Richard didn’t want riches or fame; he just wanted to sell his art again. So, he decided to create an official website for the artist, and he shared Richard’s story on his Instagram page. Charlie’s followers were amazed by Richard’s determination, and when they learned that his art was for sale on his website, they decided to pull out their wallets.
Charlie and his team promoted Richard and his website heavily for hours – and in just four hours they’d sold a whopping $50,000 worth of art. This was more money than Richard had seen for years, but more than anything he was overwhelmed with gratitude. His art was out there once again, and he was so happy. Yet, Charlie still wasn’t done.
Charlie and His Team Also Put On a Fancy Red Carpet Art Show to Sell Richard’s Paintings
Charlie and his team knew that they could have just given Richard some money and left it there. But that’s not what they’re about. They’re about creating opportunities and making dreams come true, and Richard’s biggest dream was to have his own art show. So, they decided to plan one for him.
They organized a fancy red carpet art show at the exclusive Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles and invited celebrities and high-flying art lovers to attend. Amazingly, many of the paintings shown at the art show were completed while Hutchins was homeless and living on the streets – and one of them sold for an incredible $23,000.
Charlie Was Intrigued by Richard’s Drive to Succeed, and Soon Other Big Names Heard About His Story
Richard’s art show was a huge success, and this wasn’t just a testament to his incredible artistic ability. Everyone could see that he was a hugely talented portrait artist, but it was his drive to succeed that really caught the attention of those at the show. His talent and his drive were a powerful combination – and everyone could see it.
Charlie’s hunch about Richard had been correct, and he knew it was worth putting so much time, energy, and money into this artist. And thanks to Charlie’s impact on social media, his high-profile connections, and the red carpet art show he organized, Richard was also catching the attention of celebrities who were all in the market for new art.
Richard Has Now Sold Over $200,000 in Art, and Has Had Pieces Commissioned by Countless Celebrities
Since meeting Charlie, Richard’s life has truly turned around – and his career as an artist has taken off again. His story has touched those across the globe, and Charlie has been supportive throughout the whole journey. Today, Richard has a whopping 145,000 followers on Instagram. Plus, he’s now an in-demand artist.
Since Charlie pulled up in his truck next to him, Richard has sold over $200,000 worth of art. He’s even sold many pieces to celebrities like 2 Chainz, Oprah Winfrey, and Steve Harvey. Richard has felt like his whole life has been a dream, stating that “I haven’t gotten over that yet. I can’t believe I’m a famous artist now.” However, he’s not taking this lightly.
Richard Now Has His Own Home and Art Studio, but He Wants to Pay Charlie’s Kindness Forward
Richard doesn’t know how he’ll ever repay Charlie for helping him out in such a way. He didn’t have to pull up in his truck that day, but Charlie did – and now Richard has achieved all of his dreams. He’s used the money he’s earned from the sale of his paintings to find a home in Sherman Oaks, and he’s turned one of the rooms into his own personal art studio.
While Richard is excited to see where this new stage of his life takes him, he’s never going to forget where he came from. He has survived countless struggles and setbacks, and he knows that he was just lucky to bump into Charlie that day. That’s why he’s making it his mission to pay Charlie’s kindness forward.
Richard Is Now Giving Away Free Artwork, and Donating a Huge Portion of His Profits to the Homeless
During his time on the streets of Los Angeles, Richard encountered many other men and women in similar positions to him. They had once had a great life, but then a series of unfortunate events led them to homelessness. So, he’s vowed to make giving back a priority. He wants to help as many homeless people as possible.
At the time of writing, Richard has raised over $100,000 for the homeless community. This has come from fundraisers, and from his own earnings as an artist. He’s confessed that “Most of the money that I earn is going toward bringing people off the streets.” In his eyes, it’s the right thing to do.
He’s Even in the Process of Setting up His Own Non-Profit Organization So That He Can Help the Homeless Even More
Richard isn’t stopping at giving money, though. He knows from experience that homelessness is a cycle that some people just can’t break without the help and motivation of other people. He now wants to be that motivation for other people on the streets, just as Charlie had been that motivation for him.
He’s currently in the process of setting up his very own non-profit foundation, with the aim of helping people on the streets achieve their dreams. He’s noted that “Most people don’t know what it feels like to be stepped over on the sidewalk. Until I can see something different out there, I’m going to continue fighting for this.”
Richard Will Always Be Thankful for Charlie’s Part to Play in His New Life, and Now Considers Him a Dear Friend
In Richard’s eyes, meeting Charlie changed his life in a way he didn’t think was possible. He’s achieved his lifelong dream of being a professional artist, and he’s been able to turn his whole existence around. Throughout this whirlwind process, he’s been astounded by the selflessness of Charlie and his team, and he hopes that one day he’ll be able to impact someone else’s life in the same way.
Richard now considers Charlie to be one of his greatest friends, and they’re now continuing to make magic and change lives together. He has noted that “there are so many generous people in this world” who have so much to give, and it was this generosity that took him off the streets and into a brand new chapter of his life and career.
The Artist Is Extremely Grateful for the Chance Encounter That Changed Everything for Him
Thinking back on it now, Richard knows that his story was always supposed to be tough. He knows that he was meant to go through the hard times because if he hadn’t been in that grocery store parking lot when Charlie pulled up in his truck, he wouldn’t be where he is today. Because of this, he’s extremely grateful for their chance encounter.
Now, the next stage of his life is to pass on what he has learned and what he has achieved to others. He’s stated that “I don’t care what it takes. I’m going to make a change” – and just as he was committed to being an artist and making it in the art world, we just know that he’ll follow through on this dream, too.