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One New Jersey single mother considered skywriting a message to show how proud she was of her son, who is set to graduate from high school next week.
Then Ovella O' Neal, a mother of six, thought of a better idea. She would write that message on a billboard near his school instead.
With a senior portrait of her 18-year-old son Aljelani 'AJ' Igwe attached, the rented billboard read 'A mother can't raise a man, but I raised a gentleman. We have the total package'.
O' Neal, 45, surprised AJ, who will graduate from LEAP Academy, after school on Tuesday.
Single mother Ovella O' Neal rented a billboard for $725 to show her son Aljelani 'AJ' Igwe how proud she was of him as he prepares to graduate from LEAP Academy in Camden, New Jersey next week
'When he turned around he said "Oh my God. How did you get that up there?" He was totally surprised,' the proud mother told CBS Philly.
And that's not all AJ got.
O'Neal, who paid $725 for the loving message, also rented an ice cream truck and cupcake truck for AJ to enjoy with friends and family members right there underneath the billboard.
Camden had the highest crime rate in the country in 2012, but O' Neal set strict rules to make sure her son stayed out of trouble and on the right path.
She moved her family into Baldwin Run's, a safer neighborhood in Camden, eight years ago, and has the family eat dinner together every night.
AJ was not allowed to have girlfriends and only had limited cell phone use.
After school he volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Camden and helped younger kids with their homework before going to his basketball practice.
O' Neal's rules worked. AJ is on his way to being part of the eight percent of Camden residents who have a bachelor's degree.
O'Neal set strict rules for AJ to make sure her son stayed out of trouble in a city that once had the highest crime rate in the country. AJ was not allowed to have girlfriends and had limited use of a cell phone
O' Neal set out to be a prime example for her children and she hopes the billboard will inspire other single mother as well, telling them to 'lead by example because if I can do it, you can too'
He will attend Rowan University in the fall and plans to major in either engineering or science.
And AJ has big plans for his future, saying he hopes to buy a house and his mom the BMW she's always wanted.
O'Neal, who works at Samaritan Hospice, said she had a rough but disciplined childhood and set out to be a prime example for her children.
'When they leave from under our nose, they should represent you and their upbringing,' she told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
But O'Neal also hopes the billboard will also inspire single mothers, telling them to 'lead by example because if I can do it, you can too.'
AJ's father Sal, who also lives in Camden, has been a part of his son's life but did not attend the surprise.
The billboard will stay up for three weeks, and AJ hopes it will inspire kids in the neighborhood.
One reporter asked him what he hopes a 10-year-old boy would see, looking up at his face smiling from the sign.
'A young man,' AJ replies, 'trying to do good with his life.'