R&B singer Lyfe Jennings’s story feels like a Hollywood film. The Ohio native’s rags to riches tale made him a promising star in the early ’00s after he secured several consecutive wins on the popular television talent competition Showtime at the Apollo. His harrowing story about returning to music following ten years behind bars captivated people just as much as his voice. Over the years, he’s opened up about his life during incarceration and how being placed in the “the hole” helped bring him closer to himself.
Lyfe Jennings is a native of Toledo, Ohio. There the young man started his love of music, singing in an R&B group with his siblings and cousins called “The Dotsons.” Despite showing a great deal of promise, Jennings, unfortunately, liked the streets a lot more and began getting involved in some heavy stuff. He recalled hanging out at his grandmother’s house, which was situated in the worst part of town. “That was the HOOD hood” he said while recapping that time in his life with TV One’s UNSUNG. “Everybody and they momma sold back then forreal forreal.”
Jennings recalled that older people took a liking to him because he was not “mindful.” He had no concept of the dangers and really enjoyed the lifestyle. “I liked the action, I liked the physical contact […] It made me feel like I belonged to something.” At 13, Lyfe Jennings got his first taste of trouble. The singer spent seven months in a juvie center. The following year, Jennings was involved in another incident that resulted in a woman losing her life. According to documents, Lyfe and a group of friends traveled to a house on Nebraska Avenue to seek revenge against a rival competing for business with a member of the group. One of the men threw a firebomb inside the lady’s home, ultimately resulting in the passing of the mother of six. The men later learned that they had struck the wrong target.
Jennings’ lawyer said Jennings had no role in the incident and his client went to the site thinking the men were only going to vandalize the target’s car. Still, he was found guilty of arson and served ten years behind bars.” Lyfe was quick to point out, “it was not me that took they life. But because I didn’t tell the officers everything that went on, they was like ‘you’re going to go down with the ship.'”
For his involvement in the incident, Lyfe was sentenced to 11 years. He was only 14 years old. Recalling his time incarcerated, the singer revealed he spent so much time in “the hole” that he began to enjoy it. While there, he learned to be ok with being alone, reflecting that he actually liked it because it taught him to not need anybody. “I started liking it. It forces you to be comfortable with yourself.”