Peter "Hopper" Stone/CNN
Chris Brown was—and still is—in love with Rihanna, he says. But though they had "a pretty sturdy and great relationship," he apparently wasn't emotionally equipped to deal with the rough patches.
"I'm not saying domestic violence is a part of relationships," he said when asked by Larry King last week why he thinks he got violent with his then-girlfriend back in February.
"We're both young, nobody taught us how to love one another. No one taught us a book on how to control our emotions, our anger."
"I'm not trying to fall on the fact that I'm young," the 20-year-old singer added, his soft tone and blue bowtie only serving to emphasize his boyishness. "There's a lot of stuff I wish I could have changed that night."
But seeing as how that's impossible, all he can do is hope for a bunch of better tomorrows.
"I've said countless times how sorry I am—to Rihanna," Brown said last week in an interview that aired tonight on Larry King Live. "It's a night I wish I could just take back…I feel totally ashamed of what I did "
The repentant R&B star emphasized that he wants to put his best foot forward from now on—something he might be able to do now that he's established that "of course" he remembers attacking Rihanna in the wee hours of Feb. 8.
"Our relationship was pretty good," Brown said of their life together leading up to the incident. "We had a pretty sturdy and great relationship."
However, Brown repeatedly refused to discuss the particulars of that night and why he treated Rihanna the way he did.
"It's one of those things I wish I could have relived to make it totally different," he said simply.
At least Brown's mother, who says she loves Rihanna like a daughter, and his lawyer appear fully confident that the "Run It" purveyor is not the irredeemable abuser some might consider him to be.
"One of the things that's interesting about Chris is, he wanted to take responsibility immediately," said defense attorney Mark Geragos. "He did not want to deny this…That's not usual in my line of work," he quipped.
"He was forthright, he felt guilty, he felt a great deal of remorse," Geragos continued, adding that it was only because of his lawyerly advice that Brown didn't immediately start apologizing in every direction.
"He kept saying, 'I want to talk to Rihanna, I want to apologize, I want to get help, I don't want this to happen ever, ever again, and I want to make this up to my mom.'"
When King reminded Brown that he could have done jailtime if he had immediately copped to the beating, the singer replied, "That's something I would've had to accept."
As for the punishment he did get—five years' probation, a year of domestic-violence counseling and 180 days of community labor, which will include picking up trash, cleaning up graffiti and other menial tasks—Brown does feel, however, that there possibly are better ways for him to help his community.
"I feel like with what I'm capable of doing as far as influencing people, influencing kids, I could do a lot more to help the community other than picking up trash," he said, quickly adding, "I'm not saying it's something wrong...but there's a lot more that I could do, inside of our community."
Geragos thinks that counseling will certainly help Brown, whom he's come to love "like a son or a nephew."
"I have a high degree of confidence he's not going to do anything like this in the future," the attorney said.
"I don't think, at the end of the day, my career's over," Brown concluded. "I just need to prove to people I can be a role model."
And he's "pretty sure [he and Rihanna] can always be friends."
Click here to see what Chris and Rihanna looked like when they were more than friends.