PHILLY TO DUBAI PROM KILLER
Three years ago, Saudia Shuler had a stroke. “I was messed up,” Shuler recalled. “I couldn’t walk for year and a half. I couldn’t wipe my butt.” Tough enough, but it was just the latest in a litany of medical and societal hardships she’s had to deal with since giving birth to her son. First his father, Johnny Eden Sr., was murdered, and she lost another baby she was carrying amid the tragedy. Then in 2007, she got hit by a car and was left with a slipped disc, taking her out of commission as a hairstylist. It was after she turned to cooking, selling platters out of her grandmother’s house in North Philly, that the stroke hit.
“I was like, I’m not going to be able to see my baby’s prom.” She vowed that if she lived to see it, if she lived to see him graduate, no one would stop her from going all out.
Well this is what happened and is widely talked about all over the web. Shuler had planned to send her son, Johnny “JJ” Eden, Jr. to Dubai as a graduation present, but suddenly decided to bring Dubai to everyone at the senior prom.
The event that took over the 3400 block of Clearfield on Friday is now going viral on social. Shuler had a custom mural commissioned. She brought in three tons of sand. She rented a camel from a farm in Ohio. For a week straight, friends and family worked into the wee hours each night, helping prep the scene. Her crew created three separate Dubai-inspired sets. Eden had a Lamborghini, a Range Rover and Rolls Royce for the evening. And he had three different dates, all wearing their own custom dresses. Eden himself made costume changes until he was wearing his third ensemble for the night.
“I just wanted to do something no one had ever seen before,” Shuler explained.“You know, the funny thing about it, he didn’t even want to go to on prom,” she said about her son. “He was like, mom you’re doing too much.” She didn’t listen. After all, she had the camel paid for a year and half ago.Eden admitted he told his mom things were maybe over the top.
“It was a lot going on, but it all worked out,” he said. His actual girlfriend was the third and last date — Eden called her “the main event” — and said she didn’t mind.
Because this send-off was more than just a party. It was the crowning culmination of a promise that Shuler, 43, made to herself on her deathbed.
In October 2015, she had surgery for thyroid cancer. Then, after making a good recovery thanks to help from Eden and other family (she didn’t have a home nurse), she started to suffer from seizures.
In the house, she kept a water jug. “I called it my JayJay prom and graduation foundation,” she said. “Every day that I worked I put $200 in that. All my fives and change? I put them in that jug.”Shuler estimates yesterday’s send-off cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $25,000 — which was less than it should have cost. Many friends refused to be paid for their services, like makeup artist Tiffany Phillips, or gave her heavily reduced rates, like muralist Ivben Taqiy, or Cree of DeCreed, the prom dress designer who would only let her pay for materials. The sand was delivered and shoveled into place by her friend D. Her family and her adopted family of friends and neighbors all contributed. The flowers. The cakes. The photo booth. “The whole North Philly helped me,” she said.
On Saturday afternoon, Shuler’s friend QB came by her restaurant with a trophy. Shuler hollered after reading the plaque: “2017 Most Valuable Prom Killer.”
Johnny “JJ” Eden, Jr. maintained a 3.8 GPA. He’s planning on heading to Del State, possibly on a basketball or academic scholarship, but he’s weighing his options. She’s open that many relatives of hers had been drug dealers. She knows he could’ve chosen a different path.
“He could have folded,” she said. “One time, somebody tried to get my son hooked up in a scam… He got friends that got killed. But he chose basketball. He chose to go to school. He chose to do the book work.”
So why focus on the prom party instead of the graduation?
Many feelings of love and gratitude accompany the scares and worries this family have endured. But tonightTHE215REALEXPOSURESHOW.COM will have North Philly's own Johnny "JJ" Eden Jr. for an exclusive interview of how he feels as well as how he maintains that 3.8 GPA through faith. And we all want to find out what really happened at the party.
Tune in at 8:00 pm www.therealexposureshow.com with @bbincchoc followed by "The Exposure Hour" at 9:00 pm bringing new music from unsigned artists worldwide. Join us on the comments section for live chat.