Seven years ago today, Justin Bieber was smiling, even though he really didn't have anything to smile about. But today, he does.
On Jan. 23, 2014, the pop star, then 19 years old, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving, drag racing, driving without a valid license and resisting arrest after police pulled him over on a residential street in Miami. Tests later showed Xanax and marijuana in his system, although his alcohol level was under the legal limit. A video of the pop star taken at the police station showed him taking a sobriety test and doing pushups. In his mug shot, he appeared in an orange jumpsuit, grinning from ear to ear.
"7 years ago today I got was arrested, not my finest hour," Justin, now 26, wrote on Instagram on Saturday, Jan. 23, alongside a photo taken of him leaving jail after posting bail hours following his arrest. He wore a black hoodie over a black tank top, black leather shorts and bright red sneakers.
Justin continued, "Not proud of where I was at in my life. I was hurting, unhappy, confused, angry, mislead, misunderstood and angry at god.. I also wore too much leather for someone in Miami. All this to say God has brought me a long way. From then til now I do realize something.. God was as close to me then as he is right now."
Months after his DUI arrest, Justin pleaded guilty to reduced charges of misdemeanor careless driving and resisting arrest. He avoided jail time and was instead ordered to undergo a 12-hour anger management course, complete a DUI education program, pay fines and make a $50,000 charitable donation.
The 2014 incident was preceded and followed by months of legal and personal turmoil. In fact, just two weeks before he was booked in Miami, police raided his home after he was accused of throwing eggs at his neighbor's house in Calabasas, Calif. Justin pleaded no contest to misdemeanor vandalism and was ordered to pay the neighbor $80,000 for the damages he caused.
Over the years, Justin has leaned on his family, friends and faith for comfort and has also found love: In 2018, he married Hailey Bieber, months after a short-lived rekindled romance with on-again, off-again girlfriend Selena Gomez. A year later, he revealed that he was battling depression. in the 2020 YouTube documentary Justin Bieber: Seasons, he opened up more about his mental health and other struggles, admitting he was addicted to drugs when he was younger.
"There was a time where I was sipping Lean, I was popping pills, I was doing Molly, you know, shrooms, everything," Justin said in the documentary. "It was just an escape for me. I was just young, you know, like everybody in the industry and people in the world who experiment and do, you know, just normal growing up things."
He continued, "But my experience was in front of cameras and I had a different level of exposure and people and, like, I had a lot of money and a lot of things. So then you have all these people around me just kind of hanging on, wanting stuff from me, knowing that, like, I was living this lifestyle that they also wanted to live—drinking, smoking."
Meanwhile, Justin's music career continued to flourish with the release of his latest album, Changes, in February 2020. Last fall, he gave his first solo performance, on Saturday Night Live, since canceling his Purpose tour.
"My encouragement to you is to 'let your past be a reminder of how far god has brought you,'" Justin wrote on Instagram on Saturday. "Don't allow shame to ruin your 'today' let the forgiveness of Jesus take over and watch your life blossom into all that God has designed you to be. LOVE YOU GUYS WITH MY WHOLE HEART."