Rapper T.I. has had a dramatic week of ups and downs. On Friday, two days after he talked a suicidal man down from an Atlanta skyscraper, the rapper was sent back to jail for violating the terms of his probation, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. The rapper left prison this past March after a yearlong stay on federal weapons charges.
Declaring that T.I. “has had about the limit of second chances,” U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. sentenced the rapper and movie actor to 11 more months in prison for violating his probation. He will begin serving his time at a later date.
T.I., whose real name is Clifford Harris Jr., asked for leniency. “I screwed up. I screwed up big time and I am sorry,” the singer told U.S. District Judge, who also ordered him to serve a year of supervised release.
He continued: “I’m truly and sincerely sorry. I don’t want and I don’t need to use drugs anymore. I want them out of my life.” However, U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell Jr. was unmoved.
“The worst thing is this case was an experiment,” Pannell said. The judge said he hoped the extraordinary sentence Harris initially received would work and could be adapted for use in other cases. But then Pannell looked at Harris and said: “You certainly dumped a lot of smut on the whole experiment.”
Rapper T.I. has won three Grammy Awards, most recently in 2008 for “Swagga Like Us” and has been nominated 12 times. Even by the standards of U.S. hip-hop stars, T.I. has undergone a remarkable few years.
In 2007, he faced a possible 30 years in prison on federal gun charges after he was arrested the same day he was due to have starred at the Black Entertainment Television awards where he had been nominated for a series of honors.
A judge eventually sentenced him to just one year in jail after he pleaded guilty and agreed to do 1,000 hours of community service, warning young people about the dangers of drugs and gangs — work for which he was widely praised.
T.I. on Friday acknowledged he violated the terms of his probation when police stopped him for a traffic violation in Los Angeles on September 1 and found drugs in his car.
But the hearing turned on what penalty he should pay, given that he had already received what U.S. Attorney Sally Yates described as an “unprecedented reduction” in his original sentence. Yates requested a two-year sentence.
Defense lawyers provided evidence that no one has been jailed in the last 10 years in the northern court district of Georgia for a first drug violation of their probation.
They also argued that TI was an addict who stayed clean for years but slipped back into using occasional drug use during a period of intense pressure at work.
To highlight T.I’s positive influence on young people, a university professor testified that T.I.’s music helped her relate life lessons to her students and a fellow member of T.I.s Narcotics Anonymous group spoke on his behalf.
Atlanta police officer, James Polite, also recounted how on Wednesday, T.I. played a leading role in persuading a man not to commit suicide by jumping from the roof of a 22-story building in midtown Atlanta in a highly-publicized incident.
T.I.’s career began as a rapper in 2001 but he has since branched out into other areas of the music and film industry, finding success both as a producer and actor.