NEW YORK (AP) — After rap star Lil Wayne spent months bidding farewell to his fans and his freedom, what loomed for him Tuesday was a dental chair, not a house of detention.
His sentencing in a weapons case was postponed so he could have dental surgery before going to jail.
Lil Wayne, one of music’s biggest sellers and rap’s hottest stars, is now due to be sentenced on March 2. His plea deal calls for a one-year term in a city jail, though good behavior could shave that to about eight months.
The rapper — who once told TV interviewer Jimmy Kimmel that his jewel-encrusted teeth had cost him $150,000 — said nothing at a brief court session. He left in a black sport utility vehicle, flanked by fellow rapper Birdman and others.
Defense lawyer Stacey Richman said Lil Wayne was headed home to Miami for dental work Friday. She declined to specify his malady.
“It is a medical situation that, like (it would for) any of us, has to be addressed,” she said outside court.
She said the rapper had planned to take care of it before Tuesday but his dentist had been out of the country doing charitable work.
Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon didn’t fight the rapper’s request to push back his sentencing, saying she had spoken to the dentist.
Lil Wayne, 27, pleaded guilty in October to a charge of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, admitting he illegally had a loaded .40-caliber semiautomatic gun on his tour bus in July 2007. Police found the weapon when they stopped the bus after a Manhattan concert.
The sentence comes at the peak of the rapper’s career, which netted him the best-selling album of 2008, “Tha Carter III,” a nod to his real name, Dwayne Carter.
He reinforced his place in rap’s pantheon with a commanding performance at the Grammy Awards ceremony Jan. 31. His latest album, “Rebirth,” was released two days later and was the top-selling album on iTunes last week.
He has been publicly girding for his incarceration with a series of goodbyes, including what he called a farewell tour in recent months and a recent Rolling Stone cover story in which he said he considered jail “an experience that I need to have if God’s putting me through it.”
He issued what appeared to be a final shout-out to fans in an online video hours before his court appearance Tuesday, imploring them: “Do not forget about me.”
Meanwhile, he was preparing himself privately for jail, his lawyer said.
“He’s a strong man,” she said.
The sentence, whenever it starts, won’t mark the end of Lil Wayne’s legal woes.
He’s set to go on trial March 30 on felony drug possession and weapons charges in Arizona. That case stems from his January 2008 arrest at a U.S. Border Patrol checkpoint, where authorities said they found cocaine, Ecstasy and a handgun on his tour bus.