While not making any apologies for Brown's alleged assault, Phifer thinks his age, 19, was a big factor in what went down between the two singers.
“People make mistakes—and while I don’t condone what happened that night, you know, what Chris did to her—I remember being young, 19, and at that age it seemed like everything was so over-the-top, and everyone’s so passionate about things at the age,” Phifer told us at this weekend’s World Poker Tournament Invitational at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.
Phifer and Brown costarred in the 2007 dramedy This Christmas. Phifer was also an executive producer of the flick, which told the story of a family that reunites for the holidays for the first time in four years.
Phifer says the Grammys eve incident will likely impact the singers’ careers, but no one can predict how much and in what ways. “I think this whole thing will affect him, and I think it will affect her,” he said. “With both of them, their fan base is mainly women and kids, so I don’t know what kind of example that leads, but like I said, I wish them all the best.”
Phifer has not spoken to Brown since the alleged assault and subsequent arrest, but says he has a "circle of people" to lean on.
Phifer hit the three-day poker event because proceeds from the tournament benefited the former ER star's charity, the Vine Group USA, a nearly 10-year-old organization that provides educational assistance throughout Africa.
—Additional reporting by Dahvi Shira