Young Buck has taken the rap for last year's Vibe Awards madness.

The 50 Cent sidekick pleaded no contest Monday to a felony charge stemming from the stabbing of another man during a brawl at the award show.

The 24-year-old rapper, whose real name is David Darnell Brown, worked out a plea deal with prosecutors that saw him avoid prison time for the attack. He entered his plea to the reduced charge of assault likely to produce great bodily harm, and he was sentenced to three years' probation by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin. Buck also was ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

He had initially faced the more serious charge of assault with a deadly weapon, which carries a maximum penalty of eight years in prison.

Cameras apparently caught the Nashville native pulling a knife on Jimmy James Johnson. The attack was in retaliation for Johnson sucker-punching Young Buck's mentor, Dr Dre.

The incident touched off a fracas that sent the 1,000-plus in attendance at the November 2004 ceremony scampering for the exits at the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica Airport. UPN went ahead with its broadcast of the second annual Vibe Awards after carefully editing the melee out.

Buck originally pleaded not guilty to the crime. An attorney for Brown, Roger Rosen, had maintained that video of the alleged knifing was "deceiving."

Johnson, 27, suffered a collapsed lung in the attack. He pleaded guilty Sept. 14 to felony assault and was sentenced to a year in jail and three years' probation.

Johnson never said what prompted his attack on Dre, but there had been speculation that Dre's mortal enemy, Marion "Suge" Knight might have been involved. Knight has pooh-poohed any role in the attack, and police have refused to comment on the status of their investigation.

Young Buck and the other members of Fiddy's G-Unit are signed to Dre's Aftermath label. Buck's debut solo release, Straight Outta Ca$hville, hit the Billboard charts at number three in 2004. T.I.P., an album of his pre-G-Unit raps was released last month to less acclaim.

With his Los Angeles court docket clear, Young Buck can focus on his New York legal woes. He and fellow G-Unit soldier Lloyd Banks are facing felony gun possession charges after getting arrested following an Anger Management 3 concert at Madison Square Garden. The rappers have pleaded not guilty and are due in court Jan. 26.

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