Jelly Roll might consider himself the son of a sinner, but he’s found an angel in wife Bunnie XO.
Following two stints in jail — Jelly Roll (real name Jason Bradley DeFord) was arrested for aggravated robbery at 16 and served one year before being incarcerated for drug dealing at the age of 23 — the “Save Me” singer found The One with Bunnie (full name Bunnie DeFord), whom he wed in 2016. He also found a caring stepmother for his two children, daughter Bailee and son Noah, from prior relationships.
The couple have been each other’s rocks as their respective careers have flourished. Bunnie launched her “Dumb Blonde” podcast and media company in 2020. Jelly Roll, meanwhile, became a rising star in country music in 2020 after starting his career as a hip-hop artist in 2003.
“My shooting star 💫 You’ve dreamt your whole life of being where you are today. You manifested, did the work & now my sweet Antioch boy is living his dream,” Bunnie gushed via Instagram in November 2023 ahead of Jelly Roll’s 2023 CMA Awards performance. “I LOVE YOU. I admire you. I’m so proud of you! You are exactly where you’re supposed to be. Let’s take ‘em to church tonite baby!!! 🏆🏆.”
Scroll down to see Jelly Roll and Bunnie XO’s love story from the beginning:
The pair met at one of Jelly Roll’s Las Vegas shows.
The twosome tied the knot at a Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas nearly one year after first crossing paths.
“It takes a special kind of woman to raise a kid that isn’t her child and still treat the child as if she was. Bunnie is that special woman, outside of the social media, outside of the podcast, and all the business endeavors she does and helps me with, Bunnie is a beautiful soul,” Jelly Roll wrote via Facebook alongside a photo of his wife with his daughter, who began living with the couple in 2016. “She is kind, patient and caring. Over the years watching her relationship with Bailee blossom into this beautiful mother daughter bond that it has become has been nothing short of magical.”
He gushed: “I have truly been blessed with the best partner I could’ve asked for in life. You are the epitome of a good mom and deserve more credit than anyone because you didn’t have to step up to the plate the way you did. You chose to step up and man you have knocked it out of the park. Thank you, Mama Bear — we love you.”
“We hit it off. She said she fell in love with the saddest eyes in the room,” the “Need a Favor” singer told Taste of Country Nights host Evan Paul in November 2022 of how he met his partner. “I’m not going to act like I shot my shot. She kind of shot hers. We had mutual friends. She said, ‘Yo. Just plug me in with Jelly.’ And I hit her on some other s–t. I was like, ‘Yo. I’m going to be coming out to shoot some content and video stuff. She was like, ‘Yeah! C’mon!’ I was like, ‘Cool, well I’m living in my van, so I’ll leave now.”
Later that month, the pair made their red carpet debut at the 2022 CMA Awards in Nashville.
Bunnie sang her husband’s praises after he won three CMT Music Awards for Male Video for the Year, Male Breakthrough Video of the Year and CMT Digital-First Performance of the Year for his hit “Son of a Sinner.”
“You were sent here to destroy stereotypes & blaze the trail for all the have nots,” she wrote via Instagram. “Saying I’m proud of you has to be so redundant after all these years, so tonight, per usual- I stand in awe of you. The pied piper of lost souls, the melancholy maestro … tonight was your night. Hell, if we’re being honest, 2023 has been your YEAR. You filled their hearts with love & brought ‘em to church handsome. Can’t wait to see what’s next.”
Jelly Roll penned a “Bunnie appreciation post” via Instagram in honor of her launching her podcast and leaving her past as a high-end escort behind her for good. “A lot is often said or made about my story, but the truth is, I’ve never been moved more by a story than the story of my wife,” he shared. “To watch what this woman has overcame and her passion and determination to be something better has inspired me from the moment I met her. She saved me in one of the darkest times of my life. She has been nothing but supportive.”
The former rapper recalled: “I watched her build her own platform, her own podcast and her own team with ZERO help from me. She wanted to do it on her own, she didn’t want to be just ‘Jelly Roll’s wife’ she wanted to build her own empire to empower women and share her story in hopes that it could motivate others to believe that they could change their lives and be happy. … Watching you take this thing to the moon has been nothing short of incredible to watch — so so so so happy for you baby. Let’s keep changing the world a little at a time.”
The couple renewed their vows in Las Vegas. “7 years ago my wife and stumbled into a little chapel in Las Vegas. 7 years later we walked into that same little chapel and renewed our vows … my only regret on the night we got married was I never got to see her in a dress. We made that right,” Jelly Roll wrote via social media after the magical night. “I may have never gave my wife the wedding she truly deserved but I plan on giving her the life she deserves for the rest of it. I love you more anything mama bear. You are my anchor.”
Bunnie shared photos from the intimate ceremony, calling her spouse her “missing puzzle piece. My safe space. The man that makes me dance in my feminine energy. My best friend, my hero & the greatest man I’ve ever known.” She added: “Cheers, to lucky #7 & so many more. & like I’ve always told you — he house always wins baby 🎰 🎲.”
Jelly Roll received a standing ovation after winning the CMA Award for New Artist of the Year. During his speech, he gave his spouse a shout-out and reeled off an inspirational message for fans everywhere.
“Country radio, what’s up baby? I got a thousand people to thank, but most importantly, My Lord and my wife. I love you so much, you changed my life, baby,” he gushed. “There is something poetic about a 39-year-old man winning New Artist of the Year. I don’t know where you’re at in your life, or what you’re going through. But I want to tell you to keep going. I want to tell you success is on the other side.”