TROUBLE FILLS RAP STAR TUPAC Shakur's life just as it resonates in his dark, violent lyrics. Last week—even as a New York City jury was sequestered, deliberating sexual assault charges against him—the 23-year-old New York City-born rapper was shot in a Times Square holdup. As Shakur and manager Freddie Moore, 24, were entering the building of a recording studio shortly after midnight, three men approached the group demanding their jewelry. Shakur, say police, lunged at one of the gun-wielding bandits, who fired two bullets into his head, two into his groin and one into his hand. Moore was shot in the stomach, and the robbers escaped with $40,000 worth of rings, chains and bracelets. "They said, 'Get down on the floor,' " Moore told PEOPLE from his hospital bed only hours after the attack. "The next thing I know, I was shot, and Tupac was shot. It happened so fast."

The incident is just the latest tempest in Shakur's stormy life. In March 1993, the rapper and sometime actor (who starred opposite Janet Jackson in last year's Poetic Justice) was arrested for assaulting Menace II Society director Allen Hughes after an argument in L.A. He served 15 days in jail for the attack, then seven months later was arrested again, accused of shooting two off-duty policemen in Atlanta during a traffic dispute. The charges were later dropped. One month later, Shakur, who lives in Decatur, Ga., was charged with sodomizing a 20-year-old woman in his Manhattan hotel room. A jury began deliberating their verdict on that charge only the day before Shakur was shot.

Despite his wounds, Shakur left the hospital within 18 hours, against medical advice. "Tupac talks a very tough game," says a source who was at the recording studio during the shooting. "I think that inspires people to confront him with the same kind of violence—sort of like, 'Let's see how tough you really are.' When you act that tough and have been involved in so many violent situations, it's bound to catch up with you."