Back when political and environmental activist Van Jones was building a human rights organization in Oakland, he received a badly needed check for somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000.
It was from an anonymous donor and he worried it could be from the mob or something. So he mailed it back. The check returned. He sent it back and on it went.
“Finally, a lawyer called me and said, ‘Would you please cut the check?’ “ Jones recalled. “I said, ‘I don’t know who you are and you might be wanting to trick me into a scandal.’"
The lawyer, he remembered, said, "I cannot tell you who this money is coming from but his favorite color is purple.”
From there began a friendship that would run deep.
That push to give and help without seeking attention was who Prince really was, said Jones, a 10-year friend of the music icon who was found dead Thursday at his home outside of Minneapolis. In an interview punctuated by rounds of heavy sobbing, Jones described the friend with whom he shared countless deep conversations into the night and who he said quietly used his money and influence for good.