MTV show follows T.I. before his prison time

T.I., the actor, has starred alongside Oscar winner Denzel Washington (in "American Gangster"), signed his Atlanta-based company Grand Hustle to a three-picture deal with Screen Gems and is regarded enough in Hollywood that Will Smith invited him over to his estate for an intimate election night party in November.

But there's also T.I. the convicted felon, who after pleading guilty to weapon charges in March agreed to do 1,000 hours of community service before an expected sentencing next month of one year and a day in prison.

Part of that service will play out today on "T.I.'s Road To Redemption: 45 Days To Go," where MTV viewers will meet T.I., the engaging reality show star.

And here's what viewers are likely to be talking about afterward:

T.I. the machine gun purchaser: Why would someone seemingly at the top of his career, with a hit movie and a hit album, make a stop at a Walgreen's parking lot to buy guns and silencers while on his way to a music awards show where he was the leading nominee?

The 28-year-old Atlantan looks directly into the camera and explains: "I didn't want history to repeat itself." His assistant and best friend, Philant Johnson, was killed in a 2006 shooting on I-75 near Cincinnati. "The one time I needed [a weapon] is when I didn't have one," he says.

T.I. the family man: Clifford "T.I." Harris has always been reticent to give fans a glimpse of his personal life — until now. Here, you see him with his newborn Major and his second-youngest son King the morning of his birthday party.

T.I. the counselor: Part of the series includes T.I. helping seven at-risk teens. On the first episode it's Pee Wee, a self-described "hustler." In comes T.I. to show him where the "hustler" life will lead. He takes Pee Wee to a Powder Springs jail and Haugabrooks Funeral Home. While Pee Wee had to know nothing would happen to him behind bars with the cameras rolling, his desperation does sound real when the cell door closes on him. Then T.I. helps Pee Wee try a new career pursuit — acting. Surely you've never heard Romeo and Juliet like this.

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