Nelly has a few gold records tucked under his belt, but the MC's obsession with the shiny stuff goes back to when he was a teen with a penchant for a quick gamble.
On the latest episode of "When I Was 17," the St. Louis spitter recalls his dice-throwing skills and reveals what he bought with some of his big winnings.
"I was the best dice shooter I knew," Nelly grins in the episode, which also features Karina Smirnoff and Joanna Garcia. The rapper's homeboy Lashondo agrees: "He had more good luck than he had bad luck."
And the soon-to-be-superstar tried to milk that luck as much as possible, taking every opportunity to get in on a game.
"We used to shoot dice in the band room, in the bathroom. If there was a crap game, I was getting out of class to attend that crap game," he says. "This is how I got money for the new J's [Jordans] that was coming out; this is how I got my lunch money. This is how I ate."
Flinging the dice proved to be a lucrative hobby for Nelly, and the "Grillz" rapper knew exactly what he wanted to do with his newfound green.
"I remember the first time I won a large amount — I won, like, 120 bucks," he says. "I took a buddy of mine with me and I said, 'Yo, we gonna go down here, and I'm about to get this gold tooth.' "
The dental bling was far from mom-approved, so Nelly tried to ease his mother, Rhonda, into the idea of gold caps with some practice jewelry.
"I had been putting these fake gold tooth caps up in my mouth, just trying to see how my mom would react," he says. "I came in the first time, and she was like, 'Boy, what you got in your mouth?' I said, 'No, look, it's fake.' "
Mom didn't really care if the caps were fake and ordered Nelly to let the look go.
"I really couldn't tell if it was real or not," she says. "I told him, 'Do not put any more of that mess in your mouth.' "
Despite the parental warning, Nelly stuck to his original plans to trick out his grill.
"I won that 120 bucks and I was like, 'I'm gonna get a real one now,' " he says. "So I went and I got a real one."
"When I Was 17" — this week featuring Joanna Garcia, Karina Smirnoff and Nelly — premieres Saturday at 11 a.m. on MTV