Grammy-winning rapper T.I. was sentenced to 11 months in prison on Friday for violating the terms of his probation. The 30–year-old hip-hop star was arrested in September on suspicion of possession of the drug Ecstasy.
T.I., whose real name is Calvin Harris, sought leniency in the case as prosecutors pushed for a two-year sentence, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
"I screwed up. I screwed up big time and I am sorry," Harris said before U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell. "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 faced a potential 30 years in prison for federal gun charges in 2007 when he was arrested following the Black Entertainment Television awards. He paid a $100,000 fine and was sentenced to one year in prison after completing 1000 hours of community service while under house arrest.
"We hoped he would demonstrate he'd turned his life around and serve as an excellent role model -- that he was someone who was living what he was preaching," U.S. Attorney Sally Yates said.
On September 1, Harris was stopped for a traffic violation in Los Angeles by police, who discovered drugs in his car. According to Yates, Cortez Thomas, who was involved in the original federal gun charges against Harris, was also in the car at the time.
After his arrest Harris tested positive for opiates. He acknowledged on Friday that this was a violation of the terms of his probation.
Several character witnesses appeared in court this week on behalf of Harris, including a university professor who used his music to relate life lessons to her students, a member of Harris' Narcotics Anonymous group, and an Atlanta police officer, James Polite, who explained how Harris recently persuaded an Atlanta man not to commit suicide.
Judge Pannell, who reportedly appeared un-persuaded by this testimony, chided Harris for squandering his second chance.
"I think Mr. Harris had had about the limit of second chances," Judge Pannell said. "The worst thing is this case was an experiment ... Mr. Harris, you sure have dumped a lot of smut all over the experiment."
Ed Garland, one of Harris' attorneys, said that his client was a long-time drug addict and fell back into drug abuse after taking prescription painkillers after undergoing several dental procedures earlier this year.
"Progressively, slowly, he went off the wagon," Garland said. "He wasn't being a bad person, except to himself."
Once Harris is released from prison, he will still be on probation and face three more years if he is found in violation of the terms of his release.
"He is not going to be found cruising the streets of L.A. again ... while serving my sentence," Pannell said.