The Story of Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber first captured hearts and ears as a teen heartthrob with infectious pop hits, then expertly folded in his R&B influences; he’s experimented with dance, hip-hop, and even an acclaimed holiday album. He’s garnered 23 GRAMMY nominations with two wins, eight No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, 89 million monthly Spotify listeners, and multiple billion-streamed songs. The Canadian singer, who was discovered on YouTube at age 13, is the youngest solo male artist to land seven songs from a debut album in the top spot of the chart.

The Bieber phenomenon continued to escalate with the release of a 3-D concert film biopic, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, over Valentine’s Day weekend in 2011. That same year, the star sold out Madison Square Garden and glowed as he returned home to Toronto to perform for his family and fans.

But Bieber’s naiveté about fame and the demands of touring soon caught up to him. In addition to a string of run-ins with the law, the teen idol faced a paternity suit filed by a woman several years older than him (it was later dropped) and an alleged plot to kidnap him in New Mexico.

Bieber’s image took a turn for the worse in 2013 when he was accused of beating up a photographer and being involved in a fight over a capuchin monkey that was being held hostage in his hotel room. Later, the star was accused of urinating in the mop bucket of a restaurant and being spotted with underage girls at a nightclub.

In the wake of the bad news, Bieber took a step back and reassessed what was important to him. He began to focus on his relationship with Hailey Baldwin and pursue a more healthful lifestyle. He talked about the importance of having a solid foundation in life and of being able to separate work from pleasure. He mentored younger artists and tried to be the kind of stable person for them that he wished he had had for himself.

There’s a beautiful moment in the documentary Billie Eilish Made Me, in which Bieber meets with lifelong fan Eilish for the first time at Coachella. When she is overcome by emotion, Bieber simply holds her tight and tells her it’s okay. He doesn’t talk about his own experiences, but he radiates warmth and patience and understanding and makes her feel safe. It’s the kind of gesture that he practices everyday. It’s what keeps him grounded in a world that, at times, seems to be spinning out of control. And it’s what will keep him on the path to true greatness.