Bryshere Gray Now Enjoys Fame as an Actor & Rapper but Was Almost Homeless & Had a Tough Childhood

Bryshere Gray is now easily recognized by many because of his role on "Empire," but not many people know that before he found fame, he was almost homeless at one point in his life. 

27-year-old actor Bryshere Y. Gray plays the spoiled son of a music mogul on the hit show "Empire," but his real life is far from the fiction he portrays. Gray actually almost lived as a homeless man on the streets before getting an acting break when he was younger. 

Born in Arkansas on November 28, 1993, Gray was raised in West Philadelphia, where he started writing songs at age nine and rapping at 16.

Bryshere 'Yazz' Gray on March 11, 2016 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

Bryshere 'Yazz' Gray on March 11, 2016 in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

HE WAS ALMOST HOMELESS

After graduating from high school, Gray started dedicating himself to his music to exclude all else. However, pursuing his passion wasn't always easy for him. In fact, before the "Empire" gig, he was broke. Saying more about his past situation, he said:

"I was broke and I was about to get evicted and I got this job and I got this audition with Terrence and Taraji at the same time, and it changed my life."

HIS ROAD TO "EMPIRE"

His fate changed when he landed the audition to play Hakeem on the hit show. This all happened when Gray met a friend of Will Smith's, Charlie Mack, who would become his manager.

He wrangled a video audition with director Lee Daniels, who had him flown to LA to audition with Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. All in all, it worked well for him. 

HIS MUSICAL ROLE

Following his face-to-face audition, executive producer Brian Grazer asked to see Gray one more time before signing him, this time via FaceTime. He then asked Gray to rap into his iPhone, and the producer was impressed. 

Given his musical abilities, his role suited him very much. In fact, his fictional single "Drip Drop" became the first season's breakout track. He also wrote "Bout 2 Blow," a song produced by Timbaland for the show.

HIS OTHER PROJECTS

After that, Gray had the opportunity to audition for a role in "New Edition Story," a biographical three-part miniseries about the R&B group New Edition. He was cast as Michael Bivins, the charismatic founding member of New Edition, and his portrayal was acclaimed by critics.

Gray credits his manager, Charlie Mack, his friends, and his family with helping him remain focused through the incredible turnabout that transformed his life and opened the doors to stardom for a nearly-homeless young man.

 Bryshere Y. Gray attends the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018  | Source: Getty Images

Bryshere Y. Gray attends the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

HIS PERSONAL LIFE

Another facet of his fictional character that is very different from Bryshere Y. Gray is that Hakeem Lyon is the father of a baby girl. The actor forged a bond with tiny Bella, who played his on-screen daughter, and the two became fast friends.

Unfortunately, his personal life isn't too smooth sailing. In July 2020, he was arrested on domestic battery charges against his wife. He was sentenced to 10 days in Arizona county jail after pleading guilty to the assault. 

Other charges against him, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping, were dropped following his plea agreement. Gray also needs to complete three years of probation with various conditions and is not allowed to drink alcohol at the time. 

Police found out about the incident after his estranged wife, Candice Jimdar, called 911 reporting that she was assaulted by her husband, whom she identified as the actor. Ultimately, the woman was treated and released for non-life-threatening injuries. 

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