This has been a tough season for high profile young brothers. Too many of them, from Plaxico Burress to Chris Brown, have ruined their careers, their lives and the lives of others because of their involvement in violent crimes. A year and a half ago, rapper T.I. – real name, Clifford Harris – may have been involved in one of the dumbest crimes of the century. He was arrested in October 2007 in an Atlanta parking lot hours before he was to perform at the BET Hip-Hop Awards.
T.I. was caught in a federal sting after his bodyguard-turned-informant delivered three machine guns and two silencers to him, prosecutors said.
His story provided plenty material for comedians once it was brought out that the arrest took place in a Walgreen’s parking lot. After all, most people on the way to a show stop at a store for bottled water and gum, not automatic weapons.
It looked like the year 2007 was the beginning of the end for the multi-platinum rapper, who starred in the hit movie “ATL”, was featured in Chevy commercials and had been named to Forbes’ list of top-earning rappers, making an estimated $16 million in 2006.
The year that T.I. took a huge fall, another young entertainer’s star was on the rise. In 2007, Chris Brown had two number-one hit singles, and his debut album in 2005 sold over 2 million copies in the U.S. By 2007, Chris Brown had landed acting jobs on several TV shows, appeared in two major films and was featured in MTV show, “Chris Brown: My Super 18,” that chronicled his 18th birthday celebration in New York City. His “The Exclusive Holiday” concert tour kicked off in December 2007 and concluded in February 2008 in Hawaii. During that time, it seemed like Chris Brown’s life couldn’t be more different than T.I.’s, and if anyone had to choose whose life would turn out better, most would have chosen Chris, hands down.
But almost one year to the date that his successful tour ended, he was booked on suspicion of making threats, which led to his highly publicized arrest for allegedly causing injuries to his girlfriend Rihanna. His commercial advertisements were pulled, public performances canceled and his future as a performer is in doubt. If convicted on some of the most serious of several charges, Chris Brown could serve many, many years in prison.
T.I., on the other hand, was sentenced on Friday to one year and one day in prison and ordered to a pay $103,300 fine on weapons charges. Since his arrest and time served in prison last year, T.I. has done everything from mentoring at-risk students to encouraging people to register and vote in November’s presidential election. The 28-year-old received praise from former Atlanta Mayor and U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young and Bishop Eddie Long.
Count me among those who believe that T.I. appeared to be a guy who really wanted to do everything he could not just to save his career, but to make a difference in the lives of some people along the way. It’s too soon to see what Chris Brown will do, but so far he’s made some mistakes since the allegations that make me wonder whether he’ll be able to turn his career around. I hope that the person who got a hold to T.I. can get Chris’s ear and advise him on how to handle himself during this crisis mode.
Either way, it just goes to show that second chances aren’t always given to people. Sometimes second chances are earned.