Celebs who became friends with their fans

When you're a star, everybody wants to be your friend. Sure, some of these celebs have millions of "friends" through social media, but very rarely does an admirer get to transcend the gap from fan to legitimate pal. These devotees have captured the attention of their idols and received the golden opportunity to spend time together in very intimate ways. Whether for a day, a week, or over the course of years, these celeb enthusiasts made a lasting impression on the objects of their affection. Okay, so how the heck did they do that? 

Methods vary. Some possessed the bravado to just outright ask to hang out. That's how Friends with Benefits star Mila Kunis wound up at a military ball, and it's the reason basketball pro Dwyane Wade was a plus-one at the prom. For others, the cosmos and a little luck changed the course of history. Who knew breaking your phone in front of Baywatch hunk Zac Efron could be one's big break or that just being a nice guy for fellow nice guy Tom Hanks could be the start of something grand? In a world full of bad news, let's take a moment to enjoy these heartwarming stories of celebs who became friends with their fans.

Save the last dunk for me

Sometimes a whole lot of moxie and a little good timing can help you go from fan to friend. Just ask Nicole Muxo, who made a Twitter video asking her favorite basketball player to her senior prom in Miami in 2013. Muxo sent Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade a direct message with her school's address the night before the big dance, even though he'd already told her he couldn't make it, reported the Miami Herald.

As luck would have it, Wade's calendar opened up when the Heat eliminated the Chicago Bulls from the NBA playoffs a night early, so he reportedly decided: "I won't be doing nothing tomorrow night and I can go and make this a memorable moment for her." According to the Miami Herald, "Wade called Muxo moments before walking into the prom 'to tell her to have a good night' but did not tell her that he was outside. 'And then I got off the phone and walked in. It was kind of cool.'" 

If you're thinking this fairy tale sounds way too easy, think again. Muxo knew how to play the long game. She reportedly met Wade the year prior at a book signing, where she asked him to come to her homecoming dance on a bookmark. She went to another signing wearing a customized t-shirt as an invite. Perhaps Wade's presence at the prom banked some good karma for the Heat because the team went on to win its second straight NBA title.

Can you hear me now?

Ahmed Ture was just looking to snag a video of actor Zac Efron near the set of Baywatch. That's why Ture said he "ran after [Efron's] car with no care in the world" on that fateful day in March 2016. No care in the world, that is, until his phone slipped from his hand and (naturally) shattered on the ground. Efron saw the whole thing. 

"Zac said: 'Dude, did your phone just break?'" Ture recalled (via Today). Instead of letting it end there, Efron ended up making a fan and friend for life, bringing Ture on set and dropping nearly $1,000 on a new phone for his devoted follower. The actor even gave his new pal a shout-out on Instagram: @dopekid_23 actually smashed his phone while chasing me for a snapchat — that's dedication…" Ture turned around and shared some social media love for his new bro, telling the world (via BuzzFeed), "Even if he wasn't going to get me a new phone it was all worth it."

While the High School Musical heartthrob boasts plenty of celebrity fans, it's nice to know he still has time for the not so rich and famous. In Efron's words: "To all my fans out there holdin it down — love and respect. And be careful with your phones."

Simon Cowell is a 'special friend' to a young boy

Despite his thorny show business reputation, Simon Cowell is actually a pretty nice guy. The brutally honest television host and music mogul has, on multiple occasions, helped young fans in their battles against cancer. In the process, he's gained some new friends. In fact, Cowell was so incredibly touched upon learning of 3-year-old Kian Musgrove's fight with neuroblastoma, that he donated 25,000 euro and paid for the family's flight to New York to see medical specialists, reported the Mirror. Cowell has remained in touch with the family over the years and even invited a 5-year-old Musgrove to his son Eric's fourth birthday party. "Simon paid for us to be chauffeur driven and our train journey, he's so kind," said Kian's mom, Kat. 

And just as Cowell was there for Musgrove, the child was able to console his famous buddy in a time of need. In October 2017, Cowell was rushed to the hospital after falling down some stairs. According to Chronicle Live, Musgrove and Cowell had spent the previous day together at X Factor rehearsals. "We were so devastated to hear about what happened to Simon the morning after we saw him," Musgrove's mom said. "We hope our special friend gets well very soon."

Mila Kunis likes a man in uniform

Sgt. Scott Moore was serving in Afghanistan when he realized he needed a date to a dance. Being one of the few, the proud, Moore set his sights on A-list actress Mila Kunis, star of That 70's Show and Family Guy. "I've seen a couple of her movies. She's obviously a pretty girl so … I thought she'd be fun, so I picked her," Moore told ABC News. And by picked, we mean he crafted a YouTube invitation for the actress. The 18-second clip was simple and to the point: Moore strolls toward the camera in his combat gear on a dusty looking base. "Hey, Mila. It's Sgt. Moore, but you can call me Scott," he says. "I just want to take a moment out of my day to invite you to the Marine Corps Ball on Nov. 18 [2011] in Greenville, N.C., with yours truly. So take a second, think about it, get back to me. All right. Bye now."

What do you know? Kunis RSVP'd yes! Moore said that evening "exceeded his expectations," explaining that his "down-to-Earth" date was "very interested to learn about our history and our traditions… interested in meeting all my friends and coworkers." The actress' attendance reportedly became a bit of a bright spot for a unit that had suffered terrible losses during its tour of duty. 

That patriotic soirée clearly made a lasting impression on Kunis, too. "We are still in contact," she told FOX411's Pop Tarts in 2012. "We e-mail back and forth, and spoke on the phone about a month-and-a-half ago."

Miley Cyrus shifts the spotlight

Saying that Miley Cyrus is edgy is a bit of an understatement, so when she allowed a 22-year-old guy by the name of Jesse Helt to accept her video of the year award for "Wrecking Ball" at the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2014, some critics dubbed it a publicity stunt. According to the Daily Mail, Cyrus and Helt met and bonded when the pop star was touring a Los Angeles shelter called My Friend's Place.

"I am accepting this award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now. I know, because I am one of those people," Helt said in his acceptance speech. "I've survived in shelters all over this city. I've cleaned your hotel rooms. I've been an extra in your movies. I've been an extra in your life." As Cyrus wiped tears from her eyes in the audience, a trembling Helt encouraged the crowd to take action. 

Cyrus reportedly went on to pay for an attorney for Helt after he turned himself in on a probation violation in September 2014, reported the Daily Mail. She also gave Helt her Moonman award, which came in handy in 2016, when he put the trophy up for sale on eBay. The starting bid was $10,000; proceeds were reportedly slated to help care for Helt's baby. They say you can't put a price on friendship, but it seems Miley's relationship with Helt certainly helped change his life story.

Ed Sheeran accepts a marriage proposal

English singer and songwriter Ed Sheeran's bond with terminally ill teenager Katie Papworth is undeniable. Rather than just visit the 19-year-old in the hospital, the Thinking Out Loud crooner took their friendship to another level by accepting her marriage proposal before a show in Glasgow, Scotland in 2014. Papworth's mom recalled that magic moment, telling the Mirror: "When she presented the ring he smiled and said, 'I suppose I should say yes. OK.'" 

Just to be clear, these two didn't really have a romantic relationship, but their connection was clearly a powerful one. According to the Daily Record, Sheeran became "part of the [Papworth] family" and kept in touch with the woman he referred to as his "wife" via video.  The Grammy-winner and his betrothed even held a faux wedding ceremony a week before her death in November 2014. "I still have the ring Katie gave to me and I treasure it," he said. 

Though the sentimental Sheeran is known for assisting more than a few fans' marriage proposals, what he did for Papworth proves this bloke is a true friend through thick and thin. 

Taylor Swift plans a special delivery

Who wouldn't want to be Taylor Swift's BFF? (Well, maybe aside from Katy Perry?) While the Grammy-winner has made headlines for running with a squad of glamorous model pals, Swift has also loved on some less high-profile peeps. In fact, the megastar was so moved by a mashup video created by fan Rebekah Bortniker, that she decided to send Bortniker a little something in return in 2015. According to USA Today, Swift's bodyguard delivered a box that included a framed piece of art, a Polaroid of the songstress creating that art, a necklace that had belonged to Swift, and $1,989 (a play on her album 1989) to put toward her student loans. There was a handwritten note too.

"Hi you! I was thinking about you today and how you've been there cheering me on in the most thoughtful and creative ways," the card said. "I really really really really hope you like it. I'm not a good painter but I think you're so beautiful and positive, even though you're dealing with the stress life brings, so I wanted to make you something." That gesture of mutual adoration — not to mention the acknowledgment that Swift had been paying attention to Bortniker online — meant the world to the Kansas Swiftie, who is the same age as her idol. "I still don't think I've really processed it all," Bortniker said (via USA Today). "I feel like I'm just in this crazy dream."

Justin Bieber throws a quinceañera for a fan

Leave it to Justin Bieber to throw a surprise quinceañera for a fan named Ashley, who missed her 15th birthday due to meningitis. The pop star made sure the party — filmed for Fox's Knock Knock Live — was magical from beginning to end. First, the teen icon showed up at her home with a selection of dresses from which to choose. He then whisked Ashley off in a limousine, yelled out the window that he loved her, and gave her a slow dance she will never forget. (The Biebs got up close and cozy.) "I'm dreaming … This is like a fairy tale come true," she told him. "Well, you're the princess. I'll be your prince charming whenever you want," he replied. Seriously.

Needless to say, Bieber made a friend forever. "This experience was life changing," Ashley said. "I don't know what I could do to ever thank him." We're willing to bet that all Mr. Hailey Baldwin wants in return is a happy and healthy friend. He told Knock Knock Live host Ryan Seacrest that planning the Hispanic coming-of-age party was special to him. "She was really sick last year and missed a lot of important events in her life. I just wanted to bless her and surprise her and make her life," he said (via Seventeen).

Eminem goes the extra mile

Friendships between celebrities and average Joes and Janes often make the news (and sometimes get cast as publicity stunts), but the circumstances that brought notoriously private Detroit rapper Eminem rushing to the bedside of a terminally ill teenager were seemingly publicized by everyone but Marshall Mathers.

#GetGageGarmoToMeetEminem is the social media campaign that connected the Grammy-award winner with Gage Garmo, a young man battling a rare form of bone cancer. According to the Detroit Free Press, a surprise meeting between Eminem and Garmo was arranged at the teen's home by the Michigan-based charity Rainbow Connection in January 2015. A member of the charity recalled the moment Eminem arrived: "Gage sat up with a grin on his face. His family hadn't seen their son do that in such a long time." According to USA Today, "Twitter and Facebook lit up with well-wishes for the Garmo family and applause for the reclusive rapper, who reportedly had jetted in from Atlanta for [the] quickly arranged visit."

The next day, 17-year-old Garmo passed away

Demi Lovato goes undercover for her fans

Demi Lovato loves to prank her fans, and we mean that in the best possible way. In 2014, the Grammy-winner surprised her fans — aka "Lovatics" — when she "randomly popped up to join them" during filming for her "I Really Don't Care" lyric video, reported MTV News. Her chummy antics "left fans either screaming or literally speechless." That seems to be the pop star's MO. 

In 2015, a superfan named Nathan thought he was filming a fan video for Lovato. He believes she made him a "better person" through her music and example. "She's all about owning your insecurities, loving yourself, and just being who you are … I've found a lot of solace in her music," he told Kyle and Jackie O of KIIS 1065. As he spoke about his idol, Lovato approached from behind, saying, "You're so sweet. Thank you." Much hugging ensued.

Let's not forget the time Lovato went undercover as a Lyft driver in Denver, Colo., carting around unsuspecting fans. "It's like a job that's, like, cool for the summer," she says. Lovato (alias Sam) convinces unsuspecting fans to sing Camp Rock songs, gossip about her ex, and even play along as she makes fun of her "butt" chin. Eventually, Lovato ditches the disguise, blows her passengers' minds, and dishes out a whole lot of hugs to compensate for all that sarcasm.

Tom Hanks hails a new friend

Tom Hanks has a lot of friends. He's got Bosom Buddies and Bubba. Heck, he's even friends with a volleyball. But have you heard the one about Mr. Ferrari? The following story comes to us courtesy of the Humans of New York series: A cab driver declines a guy's request because he's wrapping up his shift. "So he says 'thanks anyway' and walks away. But then I think about it, and I start feeling bad for the guy, cause hey — I got a conscience. So I call him back to the cab and tell him to hop in." As the trip gets underway, the cabbie eventually realizes his passenger is Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks. 

"I look him in the eye, and I scream: "WIIIIIIILLLSSSSSOOOOOOON!!! … He started laughing hard. He sees that I've got this Ferrari hat on, and a Ferrari shirt too, so he starts calling me 'Mr. Ferrari.'" The two snap a picture and go their separate ways, but the story doesn't end there. 

Mr. Ferrari just so happens to ferry some other folks who know Hanks in some way. "Tell Mr. Hanks that Mr. Ferrari says 'hello," he tells them. Apparently, Hanks got the greeting because one day, the cabbie receives a text inviting "Mr. Ferrari" to attend Hank's Broadway show Lucky Guy and to hang out after the performance. "How crazy is that? Cause that was me," the driver said. "A lucky guy!"