Pitbull: When he was 17 (video clip)

Recent forays into celebrities’ formative years on MTV’s “When I Was 17″ have included everything from bad-hair horror stories to sports dreams to online-auction obsessions. We delve into Pitbull’s past on this week’s episode, in which the rapper reveals the beginnings of his music career and sends a special shout-out to a high school drama teacher for believing in his potential.

“Music to me is something I did as a hobby,” the 29-year-old admits on the show. “I did it in school, freestylin’ against cats. … My drama teacher [saw] me one day battlin’ someone. She thought it was a fight, because there were 200, 300 kids all around, trying to watch what’s going on.”

“I was blown away by him,” said Hope, Pit’s drama teacher. “You couldn’t take your eyes off him.”

Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez, remembers that moment fondly and with appreciation: “When she saw it, she was the first person who really believed in me.”

Pit once told MTV News his rise to fame has been an experiment and an education. He counts his struggles and his successes as a blessing. “If you continue to work hard, let that be the fuel to your fire.”

Along with past hits like “I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” and “Go Girl,” you can catch Pitbull rollin’ with Enrique Iglesias and the “Jersey Shore” cast in Iglesias’ new single and video for “I Like It.”

“When I Was 17″ รขโ‚ฌโ€ this week featuring Pitbull, Vanessa Minnillo and Chris Paul รขโ‚ฌโ€ airs Saturday at 11 a.m. on MTV.

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