CHRIS TUCKER READY TO CHUCK IT ALL TO FIGHT AIDS IN AFRICA

Published on: January 12, 2004

"RUSH HOUR" star Chris Tucker is rushing to leave Hollywood -- even though he earns more than $20 million per film.

The 31-year-old comic will concentrate on fighting the AIDS epidemic in Africa, an insider told The ENQUIRER.

"After Chris receives his $25 million for 'Rush Hour 3' and his current film contract runs out in 2004, he's going to focus solely on his charity work.

"Helping children with AIDS has become his passion."

The bighearted funnyman has turned down more than $100 million in film roles in the past six years, in part to make time for his charity work, revealed the insider.

Although dubbed "The Next Eddie Murphy," Tucker took three years off after filming the hit "Rush Hour 2" in 2001.

The motor-mouth comedy star -- who lives in a $2 million Los Angeles-area home with his longtime girlfriend and 5-year-old son Chris Jr. -- decided to explore the world.

In Uganda, Tucker visited a health center and school to see how U.S. aid to Africa is put to use -- and he decided then and there to use his celebrity to help alleviate AIDS and other health problems afflicting the continent. In a poignant encounter, the funnyman met an African mother of three in her 30s, who was dying of AIDS and searching for a suitable family to care for her children after she dies.

"I never imagined in America preparing for death at such a young age," said the deeply moved entertainer. "It definitely changed the way I look at the world, Africa, and all the things we take for granted in America."

Divulged the insider: "Chris doesn't just sign his name to the cause. He prefers spending his time with his family and working to combat the AIDS crisis."

-- ROBIN MIZRAHI