A US judge has revoked rapper T.I.’s probation and ordered him back to prison for 11 months following his arrest in California on suspicion of drug possession.
The Atlanta, Georgia, rapper, whose real name is Clifford Harris, was on probation after serving 10 months behind bars on weapons charges.
“I think Mr Harris had had about the limit of second chances,” US district court judge Charles Pannell said, according to a report by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
During the hearing, T.I. begged the judge not to send him back to prison, saying he needed to get help for drug addiction. He told the judge he “screwed up” and pleaded for mercy.
“I screwed up big time, and I’m sorry. 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,” Harris told the judge, the Journal-Constitution said.
But the judge was unmoved and said T.I.’s sentence was an “experiment” he hoped to replicate if it worked. The rapper was allowed to stay out of prison while performing 1,000 hours of community service, mostly talking with schoolchildren about the dangers of gangs, drugs and violence.
“You certainly dumped a lot of smut on the whole experiment,” Judge Pannell told T.I.
The Grammy Award-winning artist is one of the biggest names in hip-hop, with multiple platinum-selling albums and singles, production credits and roles in films like 'ATL' and 'American Gangster'.
After the hearing, US attorney Sally Quillian Yates said she was disappointed with T.I.
“We had hoped that this would be a new, innovative opportunity,” she said. “We’re not giving up on Mr Harris, but ... if you veer off the road of redemption, there are consequences.”
The rapper, wearing a grey three-piece suit, walked out of court with family and friends, leaving the building through a back exit without speaking to reporters.
He is expected to surrender voluntarily to authorities on November 1.
As a condition of his release earlier this year, he was ordered not to commit another federal, state or local crime while on supervised release, or to illegally possess a controlled substance.
He was also told to take at least three drug tests after his release and to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment programme.
Ms Yates urged the judge to consider a sentence of two years in prison. She said T.I. submitted diluted urine samples and told his probation officer he had used ecstasy at least three times since leaving jail.
T.I’s lawyers argued that after reviewing nearly 250 cases with similar charges, none of those people was put back behind bars for violating probation.
The lawyers also said Harris was addicted to drugs and had attempted to turn his life around since leaving prison.
T.I.’s label, Atlantic Records, said in a statement: “T.I. is such an important and valued member of our Atlantic family. We offer to him and his family our continued love and support during this very difficult time.”
Earlier this week, Atlanta police said T.I. helped them talked a suicidal man down from a skyscraper. The rapper heard about the man on the radio and drove over to see if he could help.
The man agreed to come down from the 22-storey building in exchange for a few minutes with the rapper, authorities said.
T.I. denied suggestions that his intervention was a stunt to gain advance favour with the court.