Exclusive – T.I. is known for juggling many roles, including rapper, entrepreneur, business mogul, reality television star and outspoken social media personality. But most of his fans probably don’t know the Hustle Gang boss has a knack for talking people off ledges — literally.
In 2006, frontman of the hard rock band Creed, Scott Stapp, was holed up at the Delano Hotel balcony in Miami, the same hotel where Tip, his wife Tiny and late best friend/bodyguard Philant Johnson happened to be. As they checked into their room, they found it wasn’t exactly up to their standards — it was “itty bitty.” But before they headed back to to lobby to ask for an upgrade, they decided to step out onto the balcony and smoke a little somethin’ somethin’ — and was startled by what they discovered next.
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As Stapp recalled during an interview with VH1’s Big Morning Buzz Live, the singer was in the middle of a drug binge when the hotel’s white walls gave him delusions of being in an insane asylum. Out of his mind, he decided to jump off the balcony, plummeting 40 feet. For over two hours, Stapp laid there with a fractured skull, broken hip and nose, unable to move. That’s where Tip came into play.
“We go outside, smoke a joint and we start hearing, ‘argh,’” Tip tells HipHopDX’s Kyle Eustice and Jeremy Hecht during a recent Zoom interview. “And I thought — Phil was a heavyset dude — so I was like, ‘Is you hungry muthafucka?’ He’s like, ‘That ain’t me, what you mean?’ And I was like, ‘Well, where is that shit coming from?’ And he was like, ‘I don’t know.’
Then, I start noticing that’s a human! My first instinct was, I looked down, right? I turn around, and the patio was half-covered. So when we walked out to the uncovered area of the patio and look up, right there on that part that covers the sliding door was Scott Stapp. I didn’t know who he was yet. He was just a white man, hurt. The first thing he said was, ‘I can’t believe she did it to me’ or something like that. I said, ‘Huh, what are you talking about?’ And he told us that his wife or girlfriend, somebody, had slept with his best friend, something like that.”
Tip continues, “And I don’t know if he said he was trying to climb from balcony to balcony to see them or catch them and failed, or if he jumped to try to end his life. Those details I’m kind of hazy on … he had broke his legs I think, but he was still trying to get up and move, to finish jumping. And I was like, ‘Nah, nah, nah. Just sit back, chill out.’ And Phil said, ‘Hmm?’”
Stapp agreed to let Tip call for some help and as they waited for an ambulance to arrive, they had an intimate conversation about where Stapp was in his life. Tip gave him the best advice he could muster at the time.
“My thing was, ‘Man, if it go down like that bro, she weren’t worth a damn no way,’” he explains. “‘She wasn’t worth having if it go down like that. You learned everything you needed to know, and now you can move on.’ Another thing he kept doing was thinking about the all the times and all the stuff he’d done. I was like, ‘Bro, that shit over with, you’ve got to let that go. That’s what fucking you up, right there. Think about all the time that’s ahead of you, not all the times that’s behind you.’
“We talked until the people got up there and they got him down. And I hadn’t seen him anymore. I didn’t know he was the lead singer of Creed. I just thought he was a random white man in South Beach.”
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Since then, Tip says Stapp has “turned his life around” and gone on to do “phenomenal things,” including penning the 2012 book Sinner’s Creed: A Memoir. As Tip mentioned, Stapp describes that night and explains how he pulled himself out of that dark period of his life.
Believe it or not, that experience wasn’t an isolated incident for Tip — in 2010, he stopped someone else from committing suicide.
“I had fucked myself up, made a U-turn and got caught with some dope in my pocket in Los Angeles, which violated my probation right after I had just got out of prison,” he admits. “So I was in a pretty bad space in my life. The day before, I was headed to court to find out how much of my probation they were going to take away.
“I’m on the way to shoot a video [‘No Mercy’] because I was preparing myself to be away for a while … I’m listening to the radio and they stop the radio. They say, ‘Hey, we’re stopping, we’re not playing any music right now because at the top of our building, there’s a young man and he says he’s going to jump, so the police are about to tape off the area and we’ll be off the air for a minute.’”
Intrigued by the events unfolding, Tip parked his car and tried to find out if there was a way he could offer his assistance.
“Something just said, ‘Tip, see if you could help,’” he remembers. “I don’t know why I thought I could, I just knew I was going that direction and something said, ‘See if you could help.’ So I pull over and there’s a W Hotel a block down from this building that we’re talking about. So I park, valeted at the W Hotel and I walk up to the corner. And it’s all roped off like The Negotiator. I walk up and there was a cop and I said, ‘Shit, man, I heard what was going on up there, I just wanted to see if maybe I could I talk to him, see if I could get him to come down.’”
The cop recognized him and said, “Hold up, let me see.” He comes back with another officer and they decide to let him through.
“They lift up the tape and get me in there, and they walking me into the actual … where other people can’t go,” he continues. “And it was a plainclothes lady with just a badge around her neck and a bulletproof vest. And she come up, and she say, ‘What’s up? What are you doing here, T.I.?’ I said, ‘I just want to see if I could maybe help, just see if I could talk to him and get him to come down.’ And she’s like, ‘You’ll do that?’ I was like, ‘Why not’ and she said, All right, all right, cool.’”
But before Tip headed up, someone stopped him and warned him of the risks. They said, “‘Now listen, if you go up there and he actually jump, you may be liable and I don’t want to put you in that position. How about we do this? How about I do a video, and you tell him whatever you want him to hear. We’ll take that video up to him. I said, ‘Alright, cool.’
“I said, ‘Hey, whatever it is going on man, it ain’t that bad bro. I want to meet you, so come on down and let’s talk about it. Whatever you’re going through, I think me and you together, we put our heads together, we’ll figure it out. So come on down and let’s talk about it, right?’”
Although the authorities took Tip’s video to the man, they thought it was ineffective. So, Tip said he’d just to talk to him in person but as he was getting off the elevator, the man was coming down — it had worked after all. Tip still smiles looking back on those two events.
“I have a way to make a point, just an alternative perspective I think,” he says. “Everybody needs it. Everybody needs that, ‘Hey, did you think about it like this?’ Everybody needs that. And if I am able to be that voice of perspective for someone and it helps them through a tough time or keeps them from creating an even tougher time for themselves, I think it’s a blessing. I’m happy I’ve been put in a position where I can do things like that.”
The 40-year-old Hip Hop vet released his latest album The L.I.B.R.A. on October 16. Cop it here and check out the interview above.