Beaming for the cameras, Paris Hilton walked out of jail Tuesday morning after serving what she has called a life-changing sentence for violating probation in an alcohol-related driving case.
Shortly after midnight, a smiling Hilton – her hair in a long ponytail and wearing an olive jacket, white shirt and jeans – was escorted by deputies out of the jail complex’s door. She waved to a crowd of nearly 200 reporters, photographers and others, and walked up to a waiting Escalade carrying her parents.
“Mom!” she said as she embraced her mother at the car. (See a YouTube clip here.)
After she got in, the chauffeured car then drove off with a swarm of photographers in its wake.
Hilton was driven to the Hilton family home in Beverly Hills where “she got to see her parents and her brothers, and to spend time with them,” a family friend tells PEOPLE. “She was looking forward to a long shower and something to eat – and then to bed.”
As for what else the heiress missed while she was in jail: “She has been missing her pets a lot. And she loves fast food,” says the friend. “She’s looking forward to In-N-Out Burger and Taco Bell.”
On Tuesday, pink balloons were delivered to the house, as was a white frosted cake with the words “Welcome Home” written on it. No word on who sent the goodies.
Hilton’s much-anticipated release for jail was broadcast live by cable news networks and local stations. Before leaving the building, she had gone into a public restroom to change into her street clothes, said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.
Hilton, 26, reported for jail on Sunday, June 3, to “face the consequences of violating probation,” she said in a statement at the time.
The heiress was originally sentenced to 45 days on May 4 for driving with a suspended license, but her sentence was reduced with credits for good behavior. She was briefly released to home confinement, but was quickly ordered back to jail by the judge.
Suffering a mysterious health problem, Hilton served much of her sentence either in the Los Angeles downtown jail’s hospital or in the medical ward of the women’s jail in Lynwood, Calif. During her sentence, she was visited by her psychiatrist, along with her attorney, parents, sister and ex-boyfriend, Stavros Niarchos.
In an interview from jail, Hilton portrayed herself as a woman profoundly changed by incarceration, who now appreciates the important things in life and will use her celebrity for good.
“I’m so much more grateful for everything that I have, even just to have a pillow at night or food,” she told E! News’s Ryan Seacrest last week.
During a visit to see her daughter over the weekend, her mom Kathy Hilton told reporters: “I think she’s very, very excited to see the family.”
• Reporting by HOWARD BREUER, JED DREBEN and MAUREEN HARRINGTON
Plus: Weigh in on Paris Hilton’s release at CNN.com’s Marquee blog.