Hip-hop legend Slick Rick was released from a Florida jail on Friday (07NOV03), more than 17 months after United States immigration officials attempted to deport him.

The elated British-born rapper is now heading home to his wife and children in New York.

He declares, "I am fine. It feels good, fresh air, a new beginning."

Slick Rick, real name RICKY WALTERS, was cleared for release earlier this month (NOV03) by federal judge KIMBA WOOD, who ruled the BOARD OF IMMIGRATION APPEALS should never have reversed its earlier decision that Walters could stay in the United States despite a criminal conviction.

The 38-year-old rapper, who moved to America at the age of 11, was held in 2002 as he returned to Florida after a week-long gig aboard a cruise ship. Only after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 and the subsequent crackdown on aliens was Walters detained, says his publicist BILL ADLER.

Slick Rick's celebrity supporters have included Chris Rock and Will Smith.

09/11/2003 21:16