Kellie Pickler Reunited with Ex-Con Dad

05/08/2006 at 07:35 AM EDT

Kellie Pickler Reunited with Ex-Con Dad
Clyde and Kellie Pickler at her Albemarle homecoming
Thomas Hinton/Splash News
American Idol castoff Kellie Pickler returned to Albemarle, N.C., on Saturday, riding in a 1968 Ford Mustang during a homecoming parade and greeting thousands of fans – including her estranged father.

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Pickler hadn't seen her dad, Clyde "Bo" Pickler, in more than three years. He was just released after serving time in Florida State Prison for stabbing a fellow trailer park resident in 2003 and attempting to run down police who were in pursuit of him.

"Throughout my 19 years, I've had my ups and downs," Pickler told the crowd as she shared the stage with her father, reports the Charlotte Observer. "I know a lot of people would think I'd have a lot of resentment toward this person, and I don't. I feel blessed to have him back into my life."

She added, "I've been prayerful when this person came back to Albemarle, he'd be given a second chance. We all make mistakes and we all learn from them." To her father, she said, "I love you. And am so glad to have you back in my life."

The elder Pickler, who has kept out of his daughter's spotlight, was released last Monday and spent the next few days in a Florida hotel until a judge, prosecutor and probation officer granted him permission on Thursday to live temporarily with his family in North Carolina, reports the Associated Press.

He said of Kellie, whom he hugged and lifted off the ground as his eyes welled up with tears: "It's a God-sent blessing that she's overcome what she has in her short life and all she's accomplished, and I'm just extremely proud of what she's done."

Next week, the teen singer is Nashville-bound to meet with music producers. Later this month she's due to return to Los Angeles to rehearse for an upcoming American Idol tour.

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