Jay-Z has sold more than 50 million albums, won 10 Grammys, and is the head of an über-successful business empire. But his childhood was a rough one—and he discusses it at length with the Guardian, speaking publicly for the first time about an incident when, at just 12, he shot his own brother. Eric was addicted to crack, which the young Jay-Z was already selling. When Eric stole his younger brother's ring, Jay shot him in the shoulder. "I thought my life was over. I thought I'd go to jail for ever," he says.
Instead, Eric didn't press charges—and even apologized for his addiction when his brother visited him at the hospital. "It was terrible. I was a boy, a child. I was terrified," Jay-Z recalls. His brother is now clean, and the rapper never shot anyone else, though he's been shot at three times. "Even when I was making terrible decisions, I was making them out of desperation rather than ignorance. I felt I was in a survival of the fittest situation," he says. Click here to see which of his lyrics address the shooting.