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NBA YoungBoy

Baton Rouge rapper NBA YoungBoy was released from court supervision Friday after a judge agreed to terminate his probation early, noting he's complied with all its conditions over the past several months. 

The judge's decision, which came over objections from prosecutors, brings an end to the rapper's longstanding legal troubles in East Baton Rouge Parish. NBA YoungBoy, whose real name is Kentrell Gaulden, is now free to do whatever he wants, including schedule performances, release music and even move out of state.

Gaulden's attorney, James Manasseh, said his client is planning to leave Baton Rouge, possibly relocating to Los Angeles for a bigger market and better opportunities to pursue his burgeoning career. 

"Being in Baton Rouge isn't conducive to him being able to grow and move forward," Manasseh said after the hearing Friday, calling Gaulden a "genuinely good hearted, generous, sweet young man" who works hard for his success. 

Gaulden, 20, rose to national acclaim as a teenager growing up in Baton Rouge. But his success has been marred with violence and drama. 

He served 90 days in jail this summer after state District Judge Bonnie Jackson handed down a temporary probation hold in a 2016 nonfatal shooting case. Prosecutors had moved to revoke his probation entirely, which would have sent him to prison for 10 years, following his involvement in a shootout in Miami this Mother's Day that left a bystander dead.

Gaulden is also facing legal troubles in other states, including two recent arrests in Georgia, one involving domestic violence allegations.

The judge had given Gaulden a suspended 10-year prison term in August 2017 and put him on probation for three years after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a firearm in the 2016 shooting. But Jackson decided Friday that the rapper had served enough time under court supervision — 28 months on probation — and released him.

Jackson had previously granted several requests in recent months allowing Gaulden to leave his house for various reasons, including to attend doctors appointments, meet with his financial advisers and attorneys, and drive his car to shoot a rap video. 

Gaulden arrived at the 19th Judicial District Courthouse in downtown Baton Rouge Friday morning in a Rolls Royce, flanked with security guards dressed in suits and shades who waited outside during the hearing. He also brought a film crew to record him entering the courthouse. 

Manasseh said he believes Gaulden has matured in recent years and simply needs to distance himself from certain people who are negative influence. The Miami shootout remains unsolved — Florida authorities initially said they suspected a rival Baton Rouge rap group might have targeted Gaulden and his entourage. 

It appears local law enforcement responded to that incident with a renewed focus on preventing gun violence stemming from Baton Rouge rap beefs, specifically an established feud between the associates of NBA YoungBoy and Gee Money. The two were friends growing up and entered the rap scene around the same time, but later had a falling out just months before Gee Money was found shot to death in September 2017.

An associate of NBA YoungBoy was arrested in that shooting earlier this summer, and another associate was arrested just days later and accused of firing alongside Gaulden in the 2016 fatal shooting that resulted in his probation term. 

After Gee Money's death, NBA YoungBoy's agent, Desmond "Dump" Hardnett, was shot and killed in May 2018, and then Blvd Quick, another rapper affiliated with Gee Money, died in a shooting just months later. 

Judge Jackson has referenced the violence that seems to follow Gaulden during his recent hearings, cautioning him to protect himself and the people around him and refrain from engaging in conflicts.

"All around you people are dropping dead, and you don't care," she told him in May. "Who do you think you are?"

Staff writer Emma Discher contributed to this report. 

Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.