The homeless man who accepted an award for Miley Cyrus at MTV’s Video Music Awards met the superstar at a Los Angeles nonprofit group that aims to get kids off the street.
Jesse Helt, 22, used the opportunity to discuss the state of youth homelessness in Los Angeles when he took the stage after Cyrus won the video of the year award for “Wrecking Ball.”
Cyrus met Helt through My Friend’s Place, an organization that helps homeless youth find shelter, healthcare and education. The Oregon native said during his VMA speech he has lived in shelters all over Los Angeles.
His mother Linda Helt told The Oregonian he left home "because he wanted to make it on his own," even if that meant being homeless at times.
"He called me and he said, 'Mom, I'm living in a bush,'" she said.
Linda Helt added that her son returned to Salem to escape the limelight after the speech went viral.
Helt said he had a "lot of the same dreams" that brought many people to the VMAs, and added, "I've been an extra in your movies, I've been an extra in your lives."
"I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving and lost and scared for their lives," he said. "I know, because I am one of those people."
Heather Carmichael, executive director of My Friend's Place, told ABC News that Helt's story is a common one.
"The things he shared last night are typical ways people try to survive here in Los Angeles," she said. "We hear young people all the time talk about being extras, or wanting to be extras, being in the service sector, hotels, fast food, asking for money on the street. So what he described is very real for these young people."
She praised Cyrus for her interest in the organization.
"She stepped into our safe haven, young people wanted to be with her, near her -- she was not afraid, she was in it, and she did beautifully," Carmichael said. "These young people need a champion. She might be that champion for them."
Cyrus put Helt up at the BLVD Hotel & Spa in Studio City and bought the black suit he wore to the awards, the New York Times reported.
After the show, the pair stopped at In-N-Out Burger, according to a photo posted on Cyrus’ Instagram page.
My Friend's Place applauded Cyrus' interest in the cause, thanking her for visiting the group's Hollywood headquarters on Tuesday.
"Our youth (and staff!) had such a great time hanging out with our very special guest yesterday," the group wrote, sharing photos of the singer at the office.
Cyrus also posted a message on social media after the visit, saying she met "some of the coolest young people."