As the R&B star begins his sentence for the assault on his ex, he says, "I'm very ashamed"

By Elizabeth Leonard
Updated August 31, 2009 11:30 AM

It’s been six months since the Grammy weekend when Chris Brown and Rihanna got into a late-night fight that left Rihanna bruised and bloodied and her R&B star boyfriend surrendering to Los Angeles police.

Since then, Brown, 20, has pleaded guilty to felony assault and was sentenced last week to five years’ probation.

And now, he is ready to speak: On Aug. 26, the musician sat down with PEOPLE for his first interview and – as his mother Joyce Hawkins, a victim of domestic abuse herself, sat nearby – opened up about his shame over that “terrible” night, his enduring love for Rihanna and why he swears he’ll never hit a woman again.

Among Brown’s revelations:

• He still loves Rihanna: “I never fell out of love with her. That just wouldn’t go away.”

• How he felt right after the assault: “I was distraught I went to my mom on the same night and told [her] what happened and broke down.”

• Why he’s different from his stepfather, who he says regularly abused his mother: “I feel like he enjoyed it. He was an abuser. It was continuous.”

For the full interview with Brown and his motherwho calls hearing her son’s confession on the night of the assault ‘the most painful moment of my life’pick up this week’s PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday