Usher might not have known how big Justin Bieber would become when he discovered him a few years back, but he was pretty sure he had found something special.

Since Bieber burst on the scene with his My World EP back in 2009, the 17-year-old has grown up with the world watching. He's gone from up-and-comer to full-fledged pop sensation, racking up chart-topping albums and a box-office hit and becoming an all-around mega-heartthrob — all in two years.

Of course, with the good does come negative attention as well. Recently, Bieber was hit with a paternity lawsuit, which has since been dropped.

Usher, no stranger to his own controversies, had these words for the Biebs: "Stay strong. And know that all of this comes with the territory."

Aside from the drama, Usher is especially proud of Bieber's charitable side. His mentor said he "absolutely" knew the kid from Stratford, Ontario, had a big heart from the start.

"To write a check is only half of it, but when you truly take on a responsibility to be a philanthropist, you accept an effort, and I really think that Pencils of Promise is something that has a very bright future," Usher told MTV News at an event for the charity, noting that Bieber is a only a small part of it.

Usher — who appears on Bieber's new Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe — gives credit to the folks surrounding the teen superstar, including manager Scooter Braun. "Just judging from the determination and the will power of the entire team around Justin, I see a very, very promising [future] for him as a philanthropist," Usher said.