NEW YORK - Al B. Sure! burst onto the music scene in the late 1980s and it was hard not to notice. The talented, charismatic, and good-looking artist's first hit "Nite and Day" got our attention. His follow-up "Off on Your Own" kept it.
He credits his mom Cassandra Brown for installing in him not only a love of music but also a strong work ethic. And his mom took him to his first concert; they saw the King of Pop himself at Madison Square Garden.
As a kid, Al would mimic entertainers he admired like the legendary Tom Jones. Somehow, he always seemed to know that you couldn't know where you're going until you know where you came from. So Al made it his mission to learn from the greats. He worked with Rod Stewart, Barry White, Al Green and Diana Ross.
In 1989, he won an American Music Award for best new artist. That same year, he snagged a Soul Train Award. In 1991, he was nominated for two Grammys; one for his work in the Quincy Jones-produced smash hit "Secret Garden."
He became close friends with David Bowie, who he says taught him how to ski, and Michael Jackson, who called him "the young heir apparent."
At the height of his fame, Al toured with Bobby Brown. Boxer Mike Tyson was never far behind. He calls his close friends "a brotherhood."
But eventually, with success came excess and Al began to gain weight. At his heaviest, he was 309 pounds.
Quincy Jones inspired him to lose weight, telling him, "Please get your act together."
Al got bariatric surgery and began to look and feel better. Then earlier this year, he was rushed to the hospital after collapsing while working on new music. He then fell into a coma for more than two months.
He had multiple illnesses, including renal failure. He was given a tracheotomy. Doctors talked about putting him in hospice. Al was close to death.
Somehow, he turned things around and is on the road to recovery.
"What people don't truly understand — unless you've been through this type of medical journey — is taking for granted breathing, tying your shoes, speaking," Al said.
Now with a second lease on life, Al takes nothing for granted and is grateful to be alive. He's also the recipient of a new liver.
As details of his health crisis began to surface, Al received calls and letters from all over the world. Snoop Dog sent him a get-well message via video. Halle Berry reached out, too. And one of the most memorable messages came from Vice President Kamala Harris, who in a letter wished him a speedy recovery.
Al has slowed down but is still making great strides. He recently narrated the national radio commercial spots for Rev. Al Sharpton's documentary "Loud Mouth."
Although he is on the road to recovery, his body bears the scars of his medical trauma. As Al looks forward, he is writing a book about his life, working on a podcast, and producing new music.
Al's legacy is about music and family. He is super close to his three sons.
"If I can influence or help or inspire someone else, I did my job," he said.
Al B. Sure! is a survivor. His life is characterized by high highs and low lows. He faced extreme challenges, stared down death, and remains to tell his own story.
Just in case you were wondering, he's still got those smooth moves.
Al said his fans have been a big source of encouragement during his illness and now recovery.
You can follow al b sure on Instagram at @officialalbsure.