America’s biggest-selling music star Usher has a secret “confession” for his millions of fans — his father is a crack addict who’s behind bars for shoplifting and fighting with police.
Even though his father abandoned him as a child, the 26-year-old superstar, whose “Confessions” album has sold nearly 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, has pledged to help his dad when he is released from prison.
Usher even phoned his 48-year-old father, who is also named Usher, after hearing he’d been arrested in Chattanooga, Tenn.
In December, Usher Sr. was released on bond after being charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and assault on police. Officers had to wrestle him to a patrol car when they took him into custody.
A month later, Wal-Mart security staff called cops after Usher tried to leave a store without paying for several coats.
He was sentenced to 11 months and 29 days for shoplifting and resisting arrest, and is now prisoner 05-00411 at the Silverdale Detention Center in Chattanooga.
Usher Sr. walked out on Jonetta Patton shortly after she gave birth to their son on Oct. 14, 1978, in Chattanooga.
“It took him a long time to accept Usher was his boy,” said Don King, an old school friend.
“He’s a good man who got in with the wrong crowd. He started taking crack cocaine, freebasing and then stealing.
“The last time I saw him he was asking me for $25.”
The Chattanooga home Usher Sr. shares with girlfriend Yuneka Johnson has barely any furniture and the telephone has been cut off because she can’t pay the bill.
When visited by The National Enquirer, she said: “He’s a very private man and I didn’t want to say, but yes, he’s in jail.
“When he was arrested Usher called him from Atlanta. He told him to keep low and everything will be fine. I don’t know if he has heard from him since.”
Around town sources say there’s growing bitterness over Usher’s attempts to hide his Chattanooga roots.
“Nobody likes him around here,” said resident Lisa Hamilton.
“He never mentions Chattanooga, always Atlanta.”
Even the man who gave him a break in a local boy band claims Usher refuses to acknowledge his background and has changed beyond belief.
“That’s not the same boy that lived with me and called me Dad,” says Darryl Wheeler, who was approached by Usher when the 12-year-old wanted to perform in Wheeler’s band Nu Beginnings.
But Wheeler claims Usher has never given the band any credit.
“I just want to know why he doesn’t acknowledge us or the family that was Nu Beginnings,” said Wheeler.
“He is not a superstar to me. He’s still the boy that lived in my house and slept in the same room with my son and ate at my table!”