Usher, who served as a mentor figure to Justin Bieber during his early years, has come to the defense of the 20-year-old pop star after two videos were leaked on the Internet showing Bieber using racist language.

On his Instagram account, Usher wrote Saturday morning next to a picture of him and a young Justin:

At my core, I am a person that supports growth and understands without judgement, that growth often comes as a result of pain and continues effort. As I have watched Justin Bieber navigate difficult waters as a young man, I can tell you that he hasn't always chosen the path of his greatest potential, but he is unequivocally not a racist. What he was 5 years ago was a naive child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs. What he is now is a young man faced with an opportunity to become his best self, an example to the millions of kids that follow him to not make the same mistakes.

 

In the aftermath of the leak, Bieber released an apology, saying, “I feel now that I need to take responsibility for those mistakes and not let them linger… At the end of the day I just need to step up and own what I did.”

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