Written by Rana Elmir, CNN
Jussie Smollett turned to music producer Quincy Jones on Friday to join his friends to celebrate the release of a well-received debut album from the Empire actor.
Jones told CNN that he took Smollett’s phone call with him after the actor appeared in court the previous day and that the pair had spent a few moments playing basketball.
“I met him about a year ago when we were in L.A. One of the most outstanding souls I’ve met in my life,” Jones said. “And the first thing I asked him was if he played basketball and he said, ‘No, so much of the time, I don’t feel I got enough time to go outside and play.’ I said, ‘That’s because we don’t have time to put on the gold cloth or nothing. We just go in and play basketball.’”
It was later that he started to talk about Smollett’s autobiographical album which he called “Well Kept Secret.”
“It’s a wonderful album,” Jones told CNN’s Pamela Brown on live television. “I didn’t like the sentiment of the statement at the end, ‘Please keep me in your prayers.’ That’s different to me … but I’ll be fair to him and support him.”
At the end of a two-day appearance at a Chicago courthouse, Smollett told jurors he wants to focus on his music now after months of focusing on the sensational tale behind the Oscar-nominated role.
Related: All the news on Jussie Smollett
“I’m one artist who doesn’t forget about what I love,” Smollett said, according to a video by TMZ. “I want to focus on being an artist and focusing on my life and the music that I love and putting my music out there.”
The FBI has declined to comment on an NBC News report, which says that two Nigerian brothers believed to be Smollett’s accomplices were in possession of the actor’s personal fan mail before their arrest in January.
In one envelope, according to NBC, one of the brothers reportedly wrote, “Smollett? What the f*ck did I do?”
After Smollett was identified as the victim of a reported hate crime, a tearful and sometimes rambling interview he gave to reporters in February changed the trajectory of his public image. A week later, he received a letter that he said appeared to be a Molotov cocktail and said two masked men had attacked him, beating him with “pansies.”
Smollett was charged with two counts of disorderly conduct, claiming he filed a false police report . Both men — brothers Abimbola “Abel” and Olabinjo “Ola” Osundairo, who have pleaded not guilty to one count of disorderly conduct in the case — entered their pleas at Smollett’s bond hearing on Thursday.
A spokeswoman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the NBC report and referred CNN to past statements.
“Any reports of otherwise unlawful activity are strongly denied by Mr. Smollett,” the office said in a February statement . “Any and all investigative inquiries should be directed to the Chicago Police Department. The investigation continues.”
CNN has reached out to the attorney representing the Osundairo brothers.
On Friday, Smollett, 35, spoke for about 10 minutes during the morning session, telling jurors the experience has been difficult. He talked about painting murals in his community and making plans to launch a foundation.
He addressed the double standards in how he and “Empire” star Terrence Howard are treated. Howard has been sued for sexual battery, while Smollett, who has been arrested twice this year, has been arrested for allegedly filing a false police report.
He told jurors about his struggle to cope with what he’s faced.
“I’ve felt that I’ve become a people-pleaser, that I gave into everything that they said in order to please them and to be in their good graces,” Smollett said. “For me it felt like I was letting them win. And I would look into their eyes and see that they were crying and I would feel so ashamed that I felt like I didn’t deserve the respect that they were giving me.”
CNN’s Pamela Brown contributed to this report.