Can Chris Brown Bounce Back?

Felony abuse allegations tarnish career of clean-cut, "all-American" R&B singer.

BySheila Marikar
February 10, 2009, 10:26 AM

Feb. 10, 2009 — -- Sunday was a dark day for one of America's most promising stars.

Chris Brown was a triple threat. He sang hit songs ("Kiss Kiss," "Forever"), danced circles around the competition (with moves comparable to those of Usher and Michael Jackson) and made inroads into the acting world ("The O.C." and "Stomp the Yard.")

He's more of a Jonas Brother than a Lil Wayne or a young Jay-Z. He doesn't sing about a gangster past; he doesn't rock blinding quantities of bling. He shot to fame in 2005, at age 16, with "Run It!" -- the hit topped the Billboard Hot 100 and made Brown the first male artist to have his debut reach No. 1.

But now, after a felony domestic abuse case against him and the suspicion that he beat his R&B singer girlfriend Rihanna, the 19-year-old's clean-cut image may be shot.

Brown turned himself into Los Angeles authorities Sunday night for allegedly assaulting a woman. He was booked and released on $50,000 bail; he's scheduled to go to court next month.

"I can confirm that the LAPD was at the DA's office and presented the case," a representative from the L.A. District Attorney's office told Tuesday. "[The case is] regarding Chris Brown and that's all we're saying."

Though officials won't reveal the identity of the woman who they say called 911 early Sunday morning and identified Brown as her attacker, eyewitnesses saw a badly bruised Rihanna check into L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Hospital Sunday. She and Brown were supposed to appear and perform at the Grammy Awards that night.

According to E! News, Rihanna, 20, checked out of the hospital Monday night and postponed a concert scheduled for Friday in Malaysia. The L.A. Times reports she's cooperating with investigators to build a domestic violence case against Brown. Meanwhile, according to the NBA, Brown has pulled out of scheduled appearances at this weekend's NBA All-Star game.

Neither Brown nor Rihanna's representatives responded to's requests for comment.

Brown's alleged violent behavior may be rooted in his past. In 2007, he told Giant magazine about how he grew up terrified, watching his stepfather abuse his mother.

"He used to hit my mom," Brown told the magazine. "He made me terrified all the time, terrified like I had to pee on myself. I remember one night he made her nose bleed. I was crying and thinking, 'I'm just gonna go crazy on him one day.' ... I hate him to this day."

Brown also told Giant he studied martial arts to defend himself. After a fight with classmates in which he broke out his moves, he begged his own mother not to go to the police.

"Don't go to no cops pressing no charges," he told her, according to Giant. "Like, we don't do that in the 'hood."

Will Companies Flock to Chris Brown Again?

"Chris Brown is like the all-American guy," Giant editor in chief Emil Wilbekin told "He's hardworking and a great talent. He may just be reacting based on what he knows, but it's scary and surprising."

For Brown, fallout's come fast. Wrigley's announced Monday it would suspend its ad campaign featuring Brown as the spokesman for Doublemint gum.

"Wrigley is concerned by the serious allegations made against Chris Brown," the company said in a statement. "We believe Mr. Brown should be afforded the same due process as any citizen. However, we have made the decision to suspend the current advertising featuring Brown and any related marketing communications until the matter is resolved."

Marvet Britto, founder of brand management firm The Britto Agency, speculated that the case against Brown will doom potential product endorsements and spokesperson gigs.

"Chris Brown's pedigree is not a pedigree that is indicative of bad behavior," she said. "You wouldn't expect him to have bad behavior. His career is not built on transgressions the way someone like Lil Wayne's is. Lil Wayne has built a career on smoking weed and doing drugs; that's also the pedigree of most rap stars. Chris Brown is a teenage pop star, and with that comes a more wholesome persona. And also a larger responsibility because he's targeting and speaking to a younger audience, versus a Lil Wayne whose audience is more mature and able to differentiate fact from fiction."

"His foolish acts will greatly hamper his ability to continue to see lucrative endorsement deals and corporate sponsorships," Britto said. "This will damage him."

But, perhaps, not beyond repair. America loves a comeback. If Brown apologizes for his actions, seeks help and perhaps even uses this episode for inspiration, he could set his career back on track.

"He should be given an opportunity to redeem himself," Britto said. "He should be given the opportunity to show remorse and sincerity. And now, if indeed Rihanna is the victim, domestic abuse may have two of the biggest advocates anyone could dream to have. Maybe he needs help. Maybe this will inspire his lyrics. Maybe this will end up being a blessing."

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