"When I look at it now, it's just like, wow, like, I can't — I can't believe that — that actually happened," Brown told CNN's Larry King in an interview slated to run on Wednesday night, his first since his arrest in February. Brown also claims in the interview that he cannot remember that night's violence, which police said included the then-19-year-old singer punching, biting and choking Rihanna.
Brown told King that he still loves Rihanna and that he's still in love with her, but the judge's stay-away order will keep him apart from the singer for the next five years. Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault on June 22 in a deal that helped him avoid up to five years in jail, but includes five years of probation and six months of community labor service.
Brown said he realizes now that his violent actions have real-world consequences. "They want me to pick up trash, remove graffiti," he said, dubbing the judge's sentence as fair. "I'm a hard worker. It's something I'm willing to do."
Brown's attorney, Mark Geragos, told King that he's grown to love the singer as a "son or a nephew," and that the sentence means Brown has to walk "the straight and narrow for five years." So far, Brown appears to have gotten off to a shaky start, as questions were raised last week on the day of his sentencing about whether his celebratory dancing at a Los Angeles nightclub may have been a violation of his probation. A spokesperson for the Los Angeles District Attorney's office and one for the probation department said on Friday that they have not opened any investigation into whether a probation violation occurred.
Geragos said he has a "high degree of confidence" that Brown will keep his nose clean. "I'll say it now, so that you can play it back if he ever does anything — but a high degree of confidence that he's not going to do anything like this in the future."
Brown's mother, Joyce Hawkins, said she still cannot figure out why her son got so violent that morning. "Chris has never, ever been a violent person, ever," she told King. Brown has talked in the past about the domestic violence he saw at home growing up, and Hawkins told King that her husband was abusive and her son knew about it.
"I used to be scared to go to bed," Brown said. "Nobody taught us how to love one another. Nobody taught us a book on how to — how to control our emotions or our anger. ... I wish I could have changed that night."
Hawkins said Rihanna still calls her "mom" and that the two have spoken and seen each other periodically since the incident. "[I] let her know that I was very, very baffled, what had happened, and apologized for my son, along with [saying], 'I'm so sorry what happened to you,' " said Hawkins, who is not bound by the same protection order as her son. "And I didn't know what — I didn't know what else to say, and I gave her a hug, and she hugged me as well."
Brown said his goal now is to prove that he can be a role model. "That's not who I am as a person, and that's not who I promise I want to be," the singer said, adding that the months of separation from Rihanna have been "difficult" and that it will be hard to see the singer move on to dating other men. "At the end of the day, I mean, we're not together, so, if she's happy, I'm cool."
Still at work on his first album since the incident, Brown said he realizes that as much as he wants to move on, it will not be that easy to do. "I made a mistake," he said. "And it was just something I have to live up and own."