Hip-hop star Akon has thanked his mother for refusing to bail him out of jail following his arrest in 1998, insisting spending six months behind bars "saved" his life.
The Locked Up hitmaker, real name Aliaune Damala Badara Thiam, was taken into custody during a federal sting operation on 18 November (98) after allegedly running an illegal car theft ring.
Recalling the day of his arrest during a Vh1 Behind the Music special, which aired in America on Wednesday (11Apr12), he said, "Cars came from every direction, (cops yelling), 'Get out of the car! Get down, get down, hands on your head!'"
Akon, then 25, was subsequently charged with fraud and grand theft auto and hauled off to the Dekalb County Jail in Decatur, Georgia.
The hitmaker/producer's parents were outraged to find out about their son's criminal ways, and his Senegal-born mum, Kine Thiam, decided to teach him a lesson by forcing him to "sit there and figure it out".
She said, "Nobody in my family never (sic) go to jail. I let him sit there for six months and I did it on purpose, because if you figure six months is too long, well if you end up for six years, or longer, you see what it's gonna be like (sic)."
And while Akon was less than grateful at the time, it gave the Lonely singer an opportunity for intense soul searching.
He explained, "Me getting locked (up) is what saved my life. That's when I realised, 'What the f**k am I doing trying to be wealthy, (when) it ultimately means nothing because my family is suffering because I'm in here, my friends are suffering - more than anything I'm suffering. (I prayed), 'God if you let me out of this situation, I will never, ever be in this position ever again. I promise you I will not let you down.'"
Miraculously, due to a legal glitch, prosecutors were forced to drop all charges against the artist, and Akon embarked on a more ethical way to make his fortune: "That's when the turning point became, 'Now, let's focus on music and let's put as much energy into this music as I would on the street.'"