Lil Wayne is set to be released from prison early Thursday morning, after serving eight months of his year-long sentence. It's the end of a chapter in his life that began back in July 2007, when Wayne's tour bus was pulled over in New York City. Here, MTV News revisits the sequence of events that have brought us to this fateful day, when Weezy once again finds himself a free man.
July 27, 2007: Lil Wayne performs his first major headlining show at New York City's Beacon Theatre. Juelz Santana, Ja Rule and Kanye West join him onstage. But the night ends disappointingly around 11:30 p.m., when police pull over his tour bus and arrest him for possession of a .40 caliber pistol. He's released a day later on $70,000 bond.
January 22, 2008: Weezy's tour bus is stopped by border patrol on Interstate 8 in Yuma, Arizona. A search of the bus turns up $22,000 in cash and three legally registered firearms (one registered to Wayne himself in Florida). But the search also turns up 105 grams of marijuana, 29 grams of cocaine and 41 grams of Ecstasy. Wayne is charged with one count each of felony possession of a narcotic drug for sale, possession of dangerous drugs, misconduct involving weapons and possession of drug paraphernalia.
October 22, 2009: Accompanied by Cash Money CEOs Bryan "Baby" Williams and Ronald "Slim" Williams, Wayne appears in a Manhattan courtroom and pleads guilty to attempted gun possession. Sentencing is scheduled for February 2010, and he's expected to serve 8-10 months. Almost on cue, the very same day, two new Weezy songs leak online. Baby and Slim throw their support behind Wayne.
February 6-8, 2010: Video director David Rousseau shoots nine videos with Lil Wayne over the weekend leading up to Wayne's sentencing. The marathon production schedule includes videos for "Da Da Da," "Knockout" and "Get a Life" from Wayne's Rebirth LP, as well as others from the upcoming Carter IV album and the We Are Young Money compilation.
March 8, 2010: Wayne turns himself in to the authorities and is officially sentenced to a year in jail at Rikers Island. Wayne nods in agreement with the charges relayed to him by Judge Charles H. Solomon, and he's then handcuffed. He gives a final nod to Baby and Slim, and is taken out of the courtroom. It's thought at the time of the sentencing that he may be released as early as October, as months before, in November 2008, he pleaded to a lesser deal.
April 2, 2010: Wayne launches WeezyThanxYou.com, a site for him to post updates, blog and respond to fan mail.
April 20, 2010: Wayne's protégé Drake keeps his name alive at a BMI showcase in Atlanta. He leads the crowd in a "Free Weezy" chant. A month earlier, Drake tells MTV News he'll do everything in his power to keep Young Money afloat during Wayne's absence.
June 30, 2010: An Arizona judge sentences Wayne to three years probation in the 2008 Yuma, Arizona, case involving drugs, drug paraphernalia and firearms on his tour bus. The probation is set to begin when Weezy is released from his prison stay at Rikers Island. Wayne appears before the judge via video monitor and pleads guilty in the case in order to receive leniency in the sentencing.
October 4, 2010: Wayne is ordered into solitary confinement for an incident in May, when he was reportedly found with a pair of headphones and a charger for an MP3 player.
October 12, 2010: While the digital release that preceded it debuts at #2 on the Billboard charts, Wayne's eighth studio album, I Am Not a Human Being, reigns supreme at #1 on the Top 200 when it's released as a physical CD. It sells 125,000 copies its first week in stores. The project, originally intended to be only an EP, is buoyed by the Drake-assisted single "Right Above It," which hits #1 on the Billboard rap chart and #6 on the Hot 100.
Stick with MTV News through the weekend for up-to-the-minute reports on Lil Wayne's prison release as we follow him from Rikers Island to his celebrations at home and beyond. Follow us on Twitter @MTVNews for instant updates and bookmark weezywatch.mtv.com for complete, round-the-clock coverage.