Clinton Brown and Joyce Hawkins welcome their son Chris. Influenced by King of Pop Michael Jackson, Brown begins teaching himself to sing and dance at a young age. "I was 11 [in my house] and watching Usher perform 'My Way,' and I started trying to mimic it," Brown tells PEOPLE in 2005. "My mom was like, 'You can sing?' And I was like, 'Well, yeah, Mama.'"
After signing with Jive Records at 15, Brown's self-titled debut album is released. "I hope I can be the next Michael Jackson," Brown tells EW. "He made music that's for every age. It's right in the middle so everyone can have it." On the strength of such hit singles as "Run It!" and "Gimme That," the album peaks at No. 2 on Billboard's 200 albums chart, eventually selling 1.9 million copies in the U.S. and more than three million worldwide.
Brown receives a pair of Grammy nominations for Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best New Artist, where he is in the company of fellow new artist nominee Carrie Underwood. "I was actually under the weather when I first heard it," Brown, who performs at the Grammys in February 2007, tells Canada's National Post. "But at the same time, I was so amped and excited." The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, is also impressed: "I love Chris Brown. He got down on the Grammys and he's as bad as he wants to be. He's definitely Numero Uno!"
Brown makes his film debut in Stomp the Yard and a three-episode stint on The O.C., where he plays Will Tut, a new kid in the rich Orange County scene, opposite Mischa Barton's onscreen sister, Kaitlin Cooper (played by Willa Holland). "I wanna be a mogul," Brown tells PEOPLE. "I wanna be a singer, actor, entrepreneur, have a clothing line, be an executive everything." In November, he also has a supporting role in the holiday film, This Christmas.
Although Britney Spears' lackluster performance at the MTV Video Music Awards garners headlines, it is Brown who puts on the best performance. He leaps from table to table, flies over the heads of audience members like Diddy, and even performs with Rihanna. Afterward, Justin Timberlake says, "Whatever Chris Brown just did, reminded me how much I'm getting older, 'cause damn." Brown later tells EW, "I just had a lot to prove. So when I got out there I was like, 'Lemme show you what I could really do'."
Brown releases his sophomore disc, Exclusive, which peaks at No. 2 on Billboard's albums chart. His single "Kiss Kiss," featuring T-Pain, hits the top spot on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart, while his second single, "With You," peaks at No. 2. A Rolling Stone review states that Brown has grown from Usher's "temporary substitute to an undeniably major pop star. He seals the deal with Exclusive, an all-grown-up album on a level with Justin Timberlake's Justified, Rihanna's Good Girl Gone Bad."
After losing the Best Rap/Sung Collaboration Grammy to Rihanna, Brown is romantically linked to the beautiful songstress. "He's one of my closest friends in the industry," Rihanna told Allure in January. "He makes me feel like a teenager. I have to act and think like an adult so much. He makes me feel young again." In February, the pair is spotted awfully close in a pool in Jamaica.
Brown and Rihanna are embroiled in a domestic violence drama that results in Brown, 19, being charged with two felonies in the alleged beating of his girlfriend. A week after the incident, Brown says in a statement, "Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired." In June, he's sentenced to five years probation and 180 days of community labor.
Brown finally breaks his silence, publicly apologizing for assaulting Rihanna. "I am very saddened and very ashamed of what I have done," he says in a video message posted to his official Web site. "I have told Rihanna countless times, and I am telling you today, that I am truly sorry and that I wasn't able to handle the situation both differently and better."
After starting his 6-month community labor sentence in Virginia, Brown releases his third album, Graffiti. But the singer soon becomes upset with retailers for allegedly not selling his album, taking to his Twitter account to express his frustration: "I'm tired of this s----. Major stores r blackballing my CD. Not stockin the shelves and lying to costumers. What the f--- do I gotta do."
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