East TN grandfather and grandson turn shared activity into internet fame

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Grandparents hold a special place in our hearts and can teach us a few things about life; in return, grandchildren may have to teach them a thing or two about social media.

TikTok is the social media video sharing app that’s big with kids these days.

Between k-pop songs, memes, dance challenges, and inside jokes, it’s no wonder that some people hear the word, “TikTok” and think, “I’m too old for that.” Well, maybe not.

Meet East Tennessee’s TikTok grandpa, Dennis Scates, and his grandson, Jeremy Kelley.

A lot of people know them as “J Ray” and “Papaw.”

Together, they’re called the Early Retirement Squad on TikTok.

“We had a lot of actors look at us and different things, but one that rings a bell for him was Taraji P Henson,” said Jeremy.

Billy Ray Cyrus has even noticed the two.

“He actually put my video that I made to his song ‘mama said knock you out’ on his Instagram,” Jermey added.

Their roots run deep in East Tennessee. Dennis has lived here in Knoxville all his life and Jeremy is originally from Townsend.

As you can guess, at 72 years old, Dennis didn’t know a lot about TikTok until his grandson told him about the social media site.

“Me and him decided we’d get into it,” said Dennis.

Now, he’s a social media pro.

“I do crazy stuff,” he said. “You know and then I think should I do this, should I not? Yeah, we can do it and we have good fun at it.”

That fun has earned them over 2 million likes on TikTok. Now, They’re ready for the next step in stardom.

“So we’re really looking to be verified,” explained Jermey.

J Ray and Papaw are showing others that you are never too old or too young to share a common activity.

“One of the reasons we started doing this is to let kids know and to let teenagers know that your grandparents can be fun too,” Jermey added.

The two started their TikTok together after watching Ross Smith and his grandmother on TikTok.

They said they would love to do a video together one day.

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