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Interview With T.I.

Aired May 13, 2010 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight -- T.I. Exclusive. The rapper's first interview since he got out of prison for buying machine guns and silencers. Firepower even the law isn't authorized to use.

How did a straight-A student end up a dropout, selling drugs and doing time? He's open. He's honest, and he's ready to talk about all of it. Take your calls to T.I. making a come back next on LARRY KING LIVE.

This was the scene a short while ago as Grammy-winning rapper T.I. arrived at LARRY KING LIVE. His new album "King Uncaged" will be released in August. His new single very appropriately titled "I'm back."

T.I. was arrested by federal agents in 2007 for buying three machine guns in the parking lot of an Atlanta grocery store. In 2008, he was sentenced on charges of unlawfully possessing machine guns and silencers and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.

Recently released after serving nine months in prison, three months in a halfway house -- it is quite a story -- and we're very pleased that he's here telling it for the first time. Thanks for coming.

T.I., RAPPER: Thanks for having me.

KING: Thanks for agreeing to talk about this.

T.I.: Anytime.

KING: What's T.I. stand for?

T.I.: It's not an acronym. It's more of an abbreviation. My childhood name that my father gave me, my mother, my grandmother, grandfather, family and friends all call me T.I.P.

KING: How are you feeling now that you're free again?

T.I.: Well, I'm just ready to put the bad things behind me and look forward to the future and, you know, just move forward and evolve -- continue to evolve.

KING: How do you explain -- before we get into some specifics -- all the trouble you got in. You were a straight-A student.

T.I.: Yes, at one point in my life, yes, I absolutely was.

KING: How did you get in all of this trouble?

T.I.: Well, this most recent incident it came from an attempt that was made on my life. And my best friend died in my arms, and that kind of caused a state of depression; paranoia. And my judgment was jaded, you know? And I just felt my life was in danger.

KING: OK. On October 13th, 2007, you're arrested by federal agents after purchasing three machine guns, two silencers -- they weren't registered to you -- You were already a convicted felon.

Didn't you realize then, I could be in big trouble for this?

T.I.: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: So why risk it, T.?

T.I.: Well, to be perfectly honest with you, at the time when I felt the need to have all of these things, I never took into consideration the legalities. I only took it into consideration the protection of my life and my family's life and my home.

KING: All right. But you bought an Ingram .9mm machine gun capable of shooting almost 1100 rounds a minute. An SWD .9 mm machine gun capable of shooting 1200 rounds a minute, an HMK .9mm machine gun capable of shooting 990 rounds a minute.

That kind of firepower isn't even used by police or federal agents. What kind of protection did you need?

T.I.: Well, as I've seen you did your research.

KING: I have good staff.

T.I.: Did you do the research on the incident that happened to me in Cincinnati and how much firepower was used against me -- ?

KING: Tell me about it.

T.I.: -- and how outgunned we were.

KING: What happened?

T.I.: I was pulled up on after an after-party, and -- to be quite frank with you -- they opened fire and let off maybe from 50 to 100 rounds of ammunition very quick.

KING: Against you and others?

T.I.: Against me and others in that van right there, as you see and it was --

KING: Why?

T.I.: Why? I mean, you know, your guess is as good as mine. It was a confrontation --

KING: You didn't know who they were?

T.I.: No, I didn't know. I still don't know who they are. I know who they say they are. I know who the law say they are but I never knew them before that night.

KING: Whose the law say they are?

T.I.: Citizens of Cincinnati, Ohio.

KING: Who wanted to shoot rounds of guns at a rapper and his friends?

T.I.: Yes, you know, jealousy is something, Larry. You know jealousy is something.

KING: What were they jealous of?

T.I.: I guess because --

KING: Were they singers? Were they --

T.I.: No, not that I know of. I don't have a lot of information to share about them. My point is how many rounds of ammunition were used against me that night in such a short period of time and how outgunned and how we had -- we did not have significant enough manpower to fend off those kinds of attackers.

KING: Had you performed that night?

T.I.: Yes, I did.

KING: Was it a successful performance?

T.I.: Absolutely phenomenal.

KING: But then, in addition to machine guns, federal agents find in your car and in your house a loaded 40-caliber pistol next to the driver's seat of your car, a loaded .45-caliber pistol in the back passenger seat, a .45-caliber pistol in the luggage in the car, two rifles and a pistol with magazines in your bedroom closet; two more pistols and a revolver.

I could run out of the time here talking about all this. Were you fearful at home?

T.I.: Absolutely. Absolutely.

KING: Who's after you?

T.I.: Another thing, in Atlanta, during that period of time, there was a rash of home invasions. Now, I am not in any way trying to excuse my behavior because it's unacceptable, and I do realize right now that that was very, very poor judgment on my behalf. I'm in the best of my ability just trying to explain where my mind was at the time.

KING: You were afraid?

T.I.: I was concerned, extremely.

KING: Why you?

T.I.: Why me?

KING: Yes, why you? In other words, there are other rappers?

T.I.: Why Tupac? Why Biggie? Why Jam Master J? I mean, and if you do more research, you will see the death of a hip-hop star is the least investigated.

There have been no convictions on Biggie, no convictions on 'Pac, no conviction on Jam Master J. They die and then life goes on.

KING: What do you think the reason for that is?

T.I.: I can't -- I can only speculate. I don't know.

KING: What you do you speculate?

T.I.: I speculate some people just don't care. They say it's not important enough.

KING: Did you get into trouble as a kid? I mean does trouble surround you, in a sense?

T.I.: No. I don't think --

KING: Some people find trouble.

T.I.: No, I don't think trouble surrounds me. You know, I think that as a kid everything that I went through, all that I am today, my experience has been made me that.

You've got understand me growing up in the environment that I did, and the time that I did, there was no instruction manual. I did not have a mentor. All I had was trial and error.

KING: Who raised you?

T.I.: My grandparents and my mother and my uncles -- one of which who did it from a federal prison facility.

KING: Did you get into trouble as a kid?

T.I.: I got into some trouble. I was mischievous, but I was still very, very respectable and intelligent, and I knew that I was better than my surroundings. I knew that I had potential and opportunity. All I had to do is execute.

KING: You were an A student.

T.I.: Yes, I was.

KING: Shouldn't you have applied that?

T.I.: Well, I did. I think I'm fairly intelligent.

KING: I know. So wouldn't you say a fairly intelligent person would try to shy away from this kind of trouble?

T.I.: Sure. If that fairly intelligent person had been placed into very extreme circumstances where their life has been endangered then they then begin to decide not with their intelligence, but with their instincts.

With their instincts. Instinctively, when coming from the environment that I came from, instinctively -- that's the way you handle it.

KING: We'll be right back with T.I. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rap star T.I. was arrested by federal agents on Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What makes you stress out?

T.I.: Federal court dates. Apologies to my family.


KING: He's worked with some of the major stars in the business like Jay Z, Wyclef, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, Diddy. Just did a movie with Chris Brown -- talk about that later.

His popular songs include "Swagger", "Like Us," He's T.I. You're out, and you say you're out for good, right?

T.I.: Absolutely.

KING: Now since you were attacked -- shot at -- many people who have had that happen to them can legally apply for a license to carry a weapon. Did you?

T.I.: No, I did not.

KING: Why not?

T.I.: Wasn't thinking. Wasn't thinking.

KING: So you're not -- you can't legally have a gun?

T.I.: No.

KING: You couldn't then? T.I.: No, I lost my Second Amendment right.

KING: And you don't get them back, right?

T.I.: Not to my knowledge. Not unless some things change in Washington.

KING: Do you own a weapon now?

T.I.: Absolutely not.

KING: Are you afraid now for your life?

T.I.: No, you know, in having time to sit and reflect if you actually take the time and use it to your advantage, you see, well, even though all of these rounds of ammunition were fired at you that night, you didn't have a firearm, you're still here.

All the things that you've managed to make it through, you didn't have a firearms in every situation under every circumstance. Most of the times you had firearms, you didn't even need to use them. So obviously the firearms aren't what's keeping you alive.

KING: Correct.

T.I.: So I had the time to take that into consideration and acknowledge that, and, you know, properly apply it to my daily -- the way I live my life.

KING: Have you shot a weapon?

T.I.: Have I ever before?

KING: Yes.

T.I.: Yes.

KING: At a range or at someone? Come on.

T.I.: Fifth Amendment. I plead the Fifth. At a range.

KING: Did you know how to shoot the weapons bought?

T.I.: Yes.

KING: So had you to learn that somewhere.

T.I.: Absolutely.

KING: That's pretty heavy armament.

T.I.: Yes.

KING: I mean when you look back at it, did you -- do you ever -- while you were in prison, did you ever say to yourself, why did I do that? T.I.: Did I ever say to myself -- Well, I didn't have to ask myself why I did that. I knew why I did it. I did it because I felt that I was in danger.

KING: But you don't feel it now.

T.I.: No, I don't. That is the question, you know?

KING: That's why I asked it.

T.I.: Why did you feel so in danger then and you don't feel in danger now? I think now because the story is out there for everybody to know.

Everybody knows, OK, this is what happened to him. These are the approaches that he took to it and these are the adjustments that he made. So now I may not be in as much danger as I was.

KING: And you're safe by virtue of what you did?

T.I.: Not really by virtue. By the knowledge of what happened to me, you know, that's common knowledge. An attack was made on him. This is what he did. This is how he adjusted. This is how he's moving forward.

KING: When you were 14, though, you bought a handgun, right?

T.I.: Yes, I did.

KING: For $150 after seeing a friend get shot?

T.I.: Absolutely.

KING: So guns have kind of surrounded you from an early age on?

T.I.: Yes, guns have definitely been a part of my environment and my culture.

KING: You have seen people shot?

T.I.: Absolutely.

KING: Have you seen people killed?

T.I.: Absolutely.

KING: How do you ever adjust to that?

T.I.: I don't know. Some people say you never do. I'm doing the best I can right now, you know? I think it brings you closer to God. It brings you closer to God. If you're standing next to someone who is shot and died. The first thing is, why not me?

Of course, you know, someone could say, well, obviously, it wasn't your time. But mentally, you kind of deal with things differently when you've been placed in certain circumstances. KING: How old are you?

T.I.: 29.

KING: We'll be back with T.I. We'll talk about growing up. Lots of other things. We'll have Twitters. Your calls, too. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with T.I. We're getting Twitters as we roll along. We did get one Twitter ask, did you get special treatment in jail?

T.I.: Man, believe it or not, I might have got worse treatment as far as from the staff, just because I'm such a high-profile inmate that I couldn't get anything special done.

KING: Where did you serve your time?

T.I.: Forest City, Arkansas.

KING: Why there?

T.I.: Ask the B.O.P.

KING: Federal prison?

T.I.: Yes. Federal.

KING: What was your sentence?

T.I.: A year and a day.

KING: That doesn't sound like a lot for all that you were carrying.

T.I.: Well, through the blessings of God and also the unconventional methods of this agreement based on work that I had been doing in the community prior to my arrest and my conviction, the U.S. attorney in the district that I was arrest at the time, David Nahmias, along with the judge and along with their colleagues, they came up with a special agreement for me to perform X amount of hours to help at-risk kids in the community in Atlanta and abroad using my experience to kind of keep them from doing the same thing.

KING: How long do you have to do that for?

T.I.: It's a number of hours. I have 1,500 hours to serve. 1,000 before I started my sentence, 5 after I was released.

KING: You got to stay straight?

T.I.: Absolutely. Without question.

KING: Another twitter question, do you think the sentence was fair?

T.I.: Do I think the sentence was fair? Asking me? That's like asking me do I want to spend more time in jail.

KING: It sounds fair for all the things you did. It's certainly a great thing you're doing.

T.I.: Well, see, I think most times when people think about this situation, they only think about a year and a date. Okay, mind you, I had one year of home confinement where I could not leave my house. I was in my house for an entire year.

I could not leave. I could not work. I could not -- you know, it definitely affected my livelihood. I also had the 1500 hours of community service. I also have three years of probation.

It's just a creative way to extend the sentence to where society can benefit from me. Where I could -- I'm more useful to society in using my life story, using my influence to be able to affect the lives of kids in America today.

I'm no good behind a cell. I help nobody there.

KING: How much of your life was spent around drugs?

T.I.: How much of my life was spent around drugs?

KING: Did you get into it early?

T.I.: Selling it, yes. Yes.

KING: Using it?

T.I.: Using it? Not that much earlier than anyone else. I'd say about 16, 15, 16.

KING: How did you come to sell?

T.I.: How did I come to sell? I was poor, Larry.

KING: Was this in Atlanta?

T.I.: Yes, this is in Atlanta, man. Basically, my mom sent me to the store one day to buy a loaf of bread. I had maybe, $30, $40, $50 in my pocket. I was approached -- well, actually, I inquired.

A guy I knew was standing outside and he said that, you know, had was working. And I said, how? And he then introduced the method of purchasing and distributing crack cocaine on a small scale, of course.

KING: Were you arrested for that?

T.I.: Before I made it back home, I had $50 in my pocket. That was the beginning of my career. I was arrested for that in 1997. I was 17 years old and possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine. KING: How much time?

T.I.: I did about six-seven months county time and got seven years probation.

KING: So jail's been a part of your life; drugs part of your life; weapons are part of your life.

T.I.: My past life.

KING: I understand. You have five children?

T.I.: I have five children, but I really have six.

KING: The sixth is what?

T.I.: The sixth, she's my daughter through my relationship with a very special young lady.

KING: All right. Do you have a fiancee now?

T.I.: Yes, I do.

KING: How old are the kids?

T.I.: Monique (ph) is 14, Messiah (ph) is 10, Dumani (ph) is nine, Dajea (ph) is eight -- she'll be nine soon. King (ph) is five, and Major (ph) turns two on Sunday.

KING: Are they all with you?

T.I.: Yes, well, I mean, you know they all come to my house and stay with me. Of course the ones from previous relationships, they live with their mothers.

KING: How many children are with you?

T.I.: Three.

KING: Isn't it hard what you've been through to be a father?

T.I.: Is it hard?

KING: A lot of responsibility?

T.I.: It is a lot of responsibility. But I enjoy being a father. That's one of the best parts of my life. I feel like, man, that's one of the greatest things I've got going on, being a father.

Being able to make a difference in the lives of not only at-risk youth but my children. I think that's the greatest way for me to affect the world. Bring children up who can contribute some way to the future of America and abroad.

KING: You say you're a good father?

T.I.: Absolutely. I love my kids.

KING: How do they deal with what their father's been through?

T.I.: Well, first, man, I let them know that they will never go through what I've been through. And I just -- I'm honest and open. And I just try to explain to them the best I can the difference between the way they grew up and the way that I grew up.

KING: You grew up hard?

T.I.: Yes, rougher than most. But then again, not as rough as others.

KING: You had a relatively -- you said a close relative who was in prison?

T.I.: Yes, my uncle. My uncle did 10 years.

KING: How about your dad?

T.I.: My pops? No, my pops, I don't think he's ever been in prison. No, not that I know of.

KING: Are you close with him?

T.I.: My father passed away in 2002 but yes, we were pretty close. I loved him a lot.

KING: Was he young?

T.I.: He was not young. He was 50 years older than me. He was 72 when he passed.

KING: Close with your mom?

T.I.: Absolutely, I'm very close with my mom.

KING: Your grandmother living?

T.I.: My grandmother passed last year before I went to prison.

KING: Was she a big influence?

T.I.: She was a very big influence.

KING: Now in the middle of all of this, how did you get famous? How did you get a singing career? There ain't no time for this.

T.I.: You're right. I actually, man, believe it or not, I was challenged by my manager right now, a producer -- Deejay Toomp (ph) and my cousin who passed away. They challenged me.

KING: How long ago?

T.I.: This was about 12, 13 years ago, '98.

KING: You were 17?

T.I.: Seventeen, eighteen, and they challenged me to stop selling drugs, stop selling crack. They said you want to be a rapper, this is what you want to do. You've been arrested. You did just a little bit of time. You got probation. If you get arrested again, you blow it all.

So I then said, OK, well take me somewhere where I can create a way for myself. You want me to leave this behind then show me an opportunity. They then took me to a studio with a group named PA. PA then pout me on the spot, asked me if I could rap on a certain beat.

I walked in the booth, did my thing, and they signed me to LaFace Records.

KING: Did you have a hit early?

T.I.: No.

KING: It took awhile?

T.I.: I mean I think my first hit was probably "24 is a Rubber- band Man" which was my second album. My first project, it was very well received in the southeast region, all throughout the south and parts of the Midwest. It was very well received, but I didn't get national exposure on my second album.

KING: We'll be back with more of T.I. on this edition of LARRY KIND LIVE. Speaking of national, or international exposure, Mick Jagger Tuesday night. We'll be right back.


KING: One of his biggest, if not his biggest hits, "Whatever You Like." Our guests TI. By the way, he has an extraordinary record. His record, "Live Your Life," recorded with Rihanna -- we all know Rihanna -- broke the record for the biggest jump on the billboard charts in history. It went from 80 to one. Are you friendly with Rihanna?

TI: Yeah, man, I have a lot of respect and admiration for her as an artist, you know, what she's done for women.

KING: What did you think of what happened to her?

TI: I mean, it was unfortunate for both parties.

KING: Do you know him?

TI: Yeah, I do. I do. I think he's paying a huge price for something that he did. And he has to accept that and make adjustments to his own life and pick up the pieces.

KING: Have you ever been violent?

TI: Have I been violent? Not without being approached with violence.

KING: You never, like, hit a woman?

TI: Nah.

KING: Asked -- one of our people on Twitter want to know why black rappers shoot each other. There are no guns for white rockers or country singers.

TI: I can't answer that.

KING: Is there a reason for that?

TI: I can only speculate. Just off the top of my head, I mean, our music was born in an environment --

KING: Turbulence?

TI: -- in neighborhoods where this is the common activity. You know, that's kind of like asking, you know, why certain rockers behave this way. Why do they all have to use this, that and the other and do things.

KING: A product of the environment?

TI: Exactly. It's just the way. It's like a common thread.

KING: Wasn't it hard to adjust to prison, especially when you're famous?

TI: Yeah, absolutely. I think time was a lot more difficult for me. I mean, you know, it was just a lot more meticulous. It was just a lot more mental adjusting. You know what I'm saying? Physically, you know, everybody -- everybody -- I approached prison as a normal guy. Everybody treated me as a normal guy, as much as they could.

KING: Do you think you had it worse?

TI: I did, because, you know, there were certain things that other people may approach staff and say, hey, can I do this? And they might have been like, yeah, sure, no problem. With me, can I do this? Absolutely not. You know the rules. See what I'm saying? It was a little tighter and stricter.

KING: Did you have a job in prison?

TI: Yeah, I had a little gig.

KING: What was your job?

TI: I kept the compound clean from about 8:30 to 9:30 in the morning.

KING: That was your job?

TI: Yeah, I just stood and made sure there wasn't no filth around the compound.

KING: Let's take a call for TI. Detroit, hello.

CALLER: Hello, TI, so good to talk to you. I'm a big fan of you and lovely Toya.

TI: Actually you mean Timika. Toya is not my --

CALLER: I'm sorry, Tiny. I'm so nervous. Real quickly, to avoid breaking the law -- also, I think you should mention that when you're incarcerated, you do live day by day. It's not just the year. It's day by day, minute by minute. But how do you plan on protecting yourself and your family now? You know, you make a valid point when it comes to Tupac and Biggie's death.

TI: Well, I think that the biggest -- the main thing that I can do to protect myself moving forward in the future is understand my position, understand that, you know, I can't put myself in an environment where it requires for me -- where it may require for me to have a hand gun or have artillery of that nature.

KING: You can't do that.

TI: I'm instantly at a disadvantage right there. If I put myself in that environment, I'm at a disadvantage. I just stay places where I can just be cool. I have security now.

KING: Do you take responsibility for a lot of what happened to you?

TI: I do. I take full responsibility for everything that happened to me. I'm not -- you know, even though certain circumstances I was put in, I was considered a victim, but I don't feel like I'm a victim of society or anything else. I'm the first one to say, man, your life is what you make of it. Society don't owe me anything, you know. I feel like for me to learn from my experiences, make necessary adjustments and move forward is what's required.

KING: Do you ever wonder why you were shot at? Do you ever wonder?

TI: To be perfectly honest, I have a pretty good idea. I think it stems from -- it all stems from me being in a certain section of the club that everybody else couldn't get to. And when some patrons of the club were told that they could not get in that section, they became hostile. And then, you know, kind of just --

KING: It was like a VIP section?

TI: Yeah, kind of like, I live here, too. I got money. Why I can't be up there? Yada, yada, yada. You know, things led one thing to another. And so we have what happened.

KING: Well, we'll be right back with TI on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: Reminder, we're on Facebook. Check us out. See who's coming up on the show. Send questions for our guests. Tell us what you think about tonight's show with TI.

By the way, we followed TI recently to a juvenile detention center in Atlanta, where he's doing work with kids. Let's take a look at what you told them. Watch.



TI: Right now, man, I'm at one of the juvenile detention centers in Atlanta. I'm about to go in here and holler at them about why it's cool to be smart, why they shouldn't be joining gangs, and why they should be taking their education seriously. Let's see what we can share what them, man, see what I can drop on them.

-- TI to come here to really kick the bobo with you. But to be honest with you, man, I've got some real talk for you. You can't expect to stay right here in the same spot that you're in and win. You got to be able to change. You got to be willing to grow. You got to be willing to learn.

That don't make you no sucker. It don't make it no sucker. It don't make you no lame. It don't make you no chump because you want to grow and make something out of the yourself, man. It ain't too late. It ain't no mistake that you make that's too great for to you bounce back from. If you can put all of this effort, all of this energy, if you could put all of this thought into doing the wrong thing, you can put just as much efforts, just as much energy, just as much thought into doing the right thing.

You actually have somebody who you know been through it, telling you how not to go through it. How you receive it is up to you. Do I consider myself a gangster to this day? I'm retired. I'm retired.


KING: Our guest is the retired gangster, TI, doing a lot of good work, making amends, as they say. Birmingham, Alabama, another call for TI. Hello.

CALLER: TI, I really love your music. More so, I love Kamika (ph) and what she stands for as a woman. Can you express how proud you are of her on your show?

TI: Well, I mean, to be perfectly honest with you, man, how proud I am of her exceeds, you know, any professional accomplishment. I'm proud of her for being the mother of my children, for being the love of my life. You know, what she does professionally, that's just icing on the cake. You know, that's wonderful. I love that she was able to, you know, in a lot of ways, use her experiences and the things that she's gone through to shed light on situations and kind of inspire others. You know what I'm saying? I'm not going to say that because she did a great show, I'm proud of her. I'm proud of her because she is the woman that she is.

KING: Are you getting married?

TI: I definitely plan on doing it. In my eyes, I'm already married. But I do understand. I do understand.

KING: The kids.

TI: Absolutely, I mean, you know, the specifics of that, though -- although I live a very public life, there are some slices of my life that I like to keep personal.

KING: Was she very supportive what you went through?

TI: Absolutely. Very, very supportive.

KING: You need that, didn't you?

TI: Yeah, yeah, I did.

KING: Do you ever fear you'll go back?

TI: Do I fear I'll go back to what?

KING: To bad things.

TI: No, I don't fear that. Absolutely not. No. There's not a chance for that. I mean, after you've gone through it -- although on paper you can say this person has been through jail and guns all his life, yada, yada, yada. But when you actually -- this is the most severe, the most severe, just the most severe encounter with the law that I've ever had. And I'm not -- I'm in a position right now where me being gone a day caused me being gone a year or ten years for my life. Being away from my children at this point, being away from my mom, my cousins, my uncles, my grandparents, my business, businesses, you know, me being gone.

Like right now, it's just not -- there's no place in my life for anything like that right now.

KING: His seventh album is coming in August. It's called "King Uncaged." About me, huh? A sneak peek at TI's new movie coming up.



KING: Take another call for TI. Atlanta, hello.

CALLER: Hi, TI. I am one of your biggest fans. I need a little advice from you. I have a cousin in Chicago who is a 20-year-old male and he is accused of murder looking at, you know, possibly about four years. What advice can you give him, because, you know, his faith is a little jaded, and he is going through a lot of different things right now. What advice can you give him?

TI: Man that's -- that's tough. But the advice I would give him is always stay positive. Always continue to keep your mind working. Never give up. Don't never give up, no matter what. You know? You never know what is going to happen in the future. You never know what new developments in your case may present themselves. You never know. You never know.

The only way you lose for sure is if you quit.

KING: Our guest is TI. We're going to see a preview of his new movie in a couple of minutes. It's time to meet another terrific hero. We do it every Thursday. Some might think that losing a limb, suffering a major spinal cord injury is the end of the world. For others, overcoming such a loss is what living is all about. That's exactly what happened to this week's CNN hero when a car accident claimed his leg. Now he is doing with one leg what he never could do with two. And he is bringing others along for the ride. Watch.


DANA CUMMINGS, CNN HERO: When I learned to surf, it was amazing. You feel such a powerful connection to the Earth and the water. When you become disabled, you feel trapped. When I felt that first breath of freedom of riding that wave, I was like this is so good. It was so inspiring. I wanted to share that feeling I had with others.

I am Dana Cummings. I started an organization to help people focus on their abilities, not their disabilities, through surfing.

We work with people with disabilities. A lot are veterans. We just want you to feel the rehabilitative power of the ocean and surfing.

Here we go, catch this wave, buddy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually got up on the first wave. Definitely coming back to do this again. Awesome.

CUMMINGS: We also want to give our participants the power and the passion for life that we have. They have got to push themselves to the best of their ability. And if we can give them that self- confidence, that is a gift that no one can ever take that away from them.


KING: Since 2003, Dana Cummings and his organization have taught over 300 disabled people how to surf. To nominate someone you think is changing the world, go to Back with more of TI after this.



DENZEL WASHINGTON, ACTOR: what did you want?

TI: I want what you got, Uncle Frank. I want to be you?

Same plan as before, gentlemen, 25 to 30 mill, all the cash we can carry. We have to move fast, though.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You say fast, how fast?

TI: Next Tuesday.

Hey, I believe in you even when you're too stupid to believe in your damn self.


KING: TI has a new movie coming this summer. It's called "Takers." It stars Hayden Christensen, Chris Brown and Paul Walker. Watch a little.


TI: I got in good with this Russian. He had his comrades on the outside put the arm down on the dispatcher. So the dispatcher do anything to screw the job up, they're wiping out his whole family back at the Ukraine, down to the sheep dog.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should we trust the Russians?

TI: They love their sheep dogs.


KING: Who do you play there? What are you?

TI: My character's name is Ghost. Yeah, my character's name is Ghost. He is a part of a -- a very, very upscale, extravagant band of bank robbers.

KING: You can't escape it, can you?

TI: Experience, experience.

KING: By the way, you have a parole officer?

TI: Probation officer.

KING: How often do you have to report to him or her?

TI: Well you, know the specifics --

KING: Parole?

TI: Probation. The specifics of my probation, conditions, I would rather keep that to myself.

KING: Did you need permission to come here? TI: Yeah.

KING: To leave where, what state?

TI: Atlanta.

KING: To leave Atlanta, you need permission to leave. You have to report when you get back.

TI: I said the specifics of my probation I would rather keep --

KING: But you did need permission?

TI: I did.

KING: As you look at your life now -- we have 1:00 left --


KING: Are you on your way? Are you a happy man?

TI: Am I a happy man. They say when you are a completely happy man, you die. You know what I'm saying? I'm still -- I'm happier -- I'm the happiest that I have ever been. But I think that -- like right now, since I have gotten out of this situation, this is the first time I have actually taken advantage of and actually been able to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

KING: Want to rap a little? You've got 45 seconds.

TI: Yes. We've.

KING: We've been rapping for an hour sing -- say something.

TI: No, I don't do that. I don't do that.

KING: I'm trying to do rap. Aging Jewish guy writes rap songs.

TI: How about this, though, whenever you want something wrote for you, come holler at me.

KING: Whenever I what?

TI: Whenever you would like for a song to be written for you, Larry, just come holler at me.

KING: All right, I'm hollering.

TI: All right, cool. Let's got right after this. Right after this, we're going to go to the studio and knock something out.

KING: Knock something out. It could be a companion to "King Uncaged."

TI: Absolutely. It could be the sequel. Take it easy. All right? KING: TI, wish him nothing but the best. Hope things go well for him from now on. It's been an hour with TI. Hope you enjoyed it and found it informative. We have quite a lot of shows coming next week. One you will look forward to on Tuesday night. Mick Jagger is with us. Right now, it's time for Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?