01:33 - Source: CNN
Freed inmate: I never gave up hope
CNN  — 

Alice Marie Johnson, a first-time nonviolent drug offender whose life sentence was commuted after 21 years in prison, got a chance to personally thank Kim Kardashian West on Wednesday for pleading her case to the White House, according to a source familiar with their meeting.

Kardashian West, who has said she took on the clemency mission after seeing a story about Johnson’s case months ago on Twitter, met Johnson, 63, for the first time in person in Memphis, the source told CNN.

A photo of Kardashian West and Johnson sitting down for an interview to air on NBC’s “Today” show on Thursday was posted to the Facebook page of The Scholl Law Firm, which represents Johnson.

Kim Kardashian West meets Alice Johnson during interview to air on NBC's "Today" show.

Johnson was convicted in 1996 of conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine and spent a third of her life in prison.

01:36 - Source: CNN
Kim Kardashian: I told Johnson she'd be freed

Trump commuted her sentence last week, just days after meeting with Kardashian West in the Oval Office. Johnson was released from an Alabama prison later that same day.

“Ms. Johnson has accepted responsibility for her past behavior and has been a model prisoner over the past two decades,” the White House said in a statement. “Despite receiving a life sentence, Alice worked hard to rehabilitate herself in prison, and act as a mentor to her fellow inmates.”

It was Kardashian West who broke the good news to Johnson in a tearful phone call shortly before her release.

“I was like, ‘You’re going home,’” Kardashian West said last week, recalling the conversation.

“We cried, maybe, on the phone for, like, three minutes straight,” an emotional Kardashian West told CNN, recounting her advocacy for Johnson and her role in Trump’s decision to grant her clemency. “Everyone was just crying,”

Kardashian West said her mission started with a called to Ivanka Trump to plead Johnson’s case and also to ask her for a meeting with her father.

“I know that you have compassion for women like this,” she recalled saying.

“She immediately felt it,” Kardashian West said of Ivanka Trump.

01:23 - Source: CNN
Watch Alice Marie Johnson celebrate freedom

The President’s daughter connected Kardashian with her husband, Jared Kushner, who took an interest in Johnson’s case, according to Kardashian West.

Daily phone calls with the White House followed. But Kardashian West didn’t want to take too much credit for Johnson’s release and acknowledged others who tried to help her over the years.

“I did what I knew how to do,” she said.

Last week, an emotional Johnson marveled at her freedom after more than two decades behind bars, grateful for a second chance – and craving seafood.

President Barack Obama did not intervene in Johnson’s case during his eight years in office because the Justice Department recommended denying Johnson’s request for commutation. Three requests were made but never reached Obama’s desk because he followed the Justice Department’s recommendations, a senior Obama administration official told CNN.

CNN’s Nick Valencia contributed to this story.