President Trump just saved Lil Wayne from going back to prison.
Trump handed the multi-platinum rapper a full presidential pardon that blocks a possible 10-year prison sentence over a gun charge.
Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter, was scheduled to face sentencing on January 28 in a Miami courtroom after pleading guilty to bringing a loaded, gold-plated .45-caliber Remington handgun with him on a private jet to Miami in December 2019.
The rapper, who has four children, had told officials the gun was given to him as a Father’s Day present. But a prior felony weapon conviction made his possession of the gun illegal, and he entered a guilty plea almost a year later, on December 11, 2020.
Wayne’s dramatic last-minute reprieve comes as Trump issues dozens of pardons on his way out the door to friends, allies and supporters. In the early hours of Monday morning Trump announced 73 pardons including for his former strategist Steve Bannon and GOP fundraiser Elliot Broidy.
Previously, Trump had pardoned the infamous political trickster Roger Stone and former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
And his pardon shows the benefits of cozying up to Trump.
Wayne aligned himself with the president right before the all-important November 2020 election—earning instant backlash on social media from fellow rapper 50 Cent. Yet Wayne was just one of several prominent rappers to be courted by Trump before the vote, along with Kanye West and Ice Cube, as Trump sought to reach out to Black voters.
For Wayne, at least, it seems that courtship was successful. Days before the election, he posed with Trump for a picture in Florida and blasted it out to his almost 35 million followers.
“Just had a great meeting with @realdonaldtrump,” Wayne wrote. “He listened to what we had to say today and assured he will and can get it done.”
“Oh no,” 50 Cent wrote on Twitter the same day. “WAYNE, I WOULD HAVE NEVER TOOK THIS PICTURE.”
But Wayne’s tweeted picture with the president, and his perceived loyalty before the election, might have just saved him from going back to prison.
The Grammy-winning performer served eight months of a year-long sentence in Rikers Island on weapons charges in 2010, after cops found a gun on his tour bus in 2007 after a gig at Manhattan’s Beacon Theater. Wayne pleaded guilty at the time after reaching a deal with prosecutors, even though his attorney said the gun belonged to someone else.
His most recent charges stemmed from an anonymous tip about firearms and narcotics on the rapper’s private plane. That led to his bust in Florida in 2019.
The call led cops to the Opa Locka Executive Airport just as the rapper was stepping off a flight from California, according to court documents.
Wayne told police he had a gun in his bag. After securing a warrant, the cops found the weapon along with “personal use” amounts of cocaine, ecstasy, and oxycodone.
The White House statement on Trump’s pardons highlighted Wayne’s “generosity” as seen through his “commitment to a variety of charities.” It also quoted sports personality Deion Sanders, who advocated for Wayne’s pardon, and described the rapper as a “provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith.”