Korey Wise Of The Exonerated 5 Plays Santa, Gives Out Gifts In Harlem

Wise, a subject of Ava Duvernay's "When They See Us," was exonerated in 2002 after serving 14 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit.

Korey Wise, who was released from prison in 2002 after serving nearly 14 years for a crime he didn’t commit, handed out gifts to children in Harlem, New York City, this week. 

Wise, whose story was captured in Ava Duvernay’s critically acclaimed Netflix series “When They See Us,” greeted droves of children attending a toy drive at the Lehman Houses in Harlem.

The scene made for an awesome reversal of circumstance. Decades ago, Wise and fellow teenagers Raymond Santana, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson and Antron McCray saw their faces splashed across news reports linking them to the rape of a jogger in Central Park. For years, the five were national pariahs, but another man ― Matias Reyes ― ultimately confessed to the crime. 

On Tuesday, however, Wise was the focus of an altogether different New York news story as PIX11 captured him ― Santa hat and all ― delivering holiday cheer to children in his former Harlem community. 

When asked how he felt seeing the children’s faces as he paired them with gifts, Wise told PIX11, “It makes me wanna cry.”

“Life goes on,” he added, “life grows.”

In a tweet sharing the story, Duvernay wrote, “I wanna be like Korey when I grow up.”

Actor Jharrel Jerome won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for his portrayal of Wise in Duvernay’s “When They See Us.”

Watch the full PIX11 story below: