Justin Bieber tweeted a message to fans on Saturday saying he was “trying to be better,” one day after the tabloid website TMZ published what it claimed were photos of the 18-year-old singer smoking marijuana.
“Everyday growing and learning. Trying to be better,” Bieber tweeted. “U get knocked down, u get up.[sic]”
In TMZ’s photos, published on Friday, Bieber is shown laughing and chatting with friends as he holds what appears to be a cigarette wrapped in brown cigar paper. TMZ claimed that the photos had been taken on Jan. 2, during a hotel party at Newport Beach, and referred to the brown cigarette in Bieber’s hand as a “smoldering blunt.”
If the photos are real the implications could be serious for Bieber’s public image. The “Beauty and the Beat” singer was placed at the center of a scandal earlier this week when a photographer was killed while trying to snap images of Bieber’s Ferrari after it had been pulled over for a speeding violation.
Law enforcement said that Bieber’s car was pulled over by California Highway Patrol on the 405 highway, but sources for TMZ said that Bieber’s close pal, 19-year-old Dallas rapper Lil Twist, had been driving at the time and Bieber was not present. The photographer, Chris Guerra, was killed by oncoming traffic as he was attempting to cross the highway. Before he was killed, Guerra had allegedly claimed to have seen Bieber smoking marijuana earlier that day.
Bieber’s team took an offensive tact after Guerra’s death, issuing a statement that urged lawmakers to be harsher on paparazzi. "Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders and the photographers themselves," Bieber said in the statement on Wednesday, reported the Los Angeles Times.
But the most recent photos taken just a day later, suggest that neither Justin or Lil Twist were too shaken up over the incident. According to sources for TMZ, Justin and Twist attended the Newport Beach party together.
The negative press comes amid another potential complication in Justin’s life: his relationship with Selena Gomez is allegedly on the rocks again. Bieber seemed to confirm the news on Sunday over Twitter. A fan of his, Twitter user @trillbiebah, wrote a message speculating that the singer would be including a song about breakups, despite the fact that he has been publicly dating Selena Gomez for about two years. “Justin always goes above and beyond for us. 11 songs on believe acoustic I’m hype. I have a feeling one song will be about breakups.” Justin retweeted the message to his followers.