this is "nightline." >> tonight, a teenager held for years on rikers island. >> i'm a mess. >> never tried, never convicted. driven to despair by solitary confinement. later taking his own life. now a rallying cry for justice in jay-z's powerful new documentary "time: the khalif crowder story." >> this is not like one case that happened, this is happening a lot. plus tween idol. ♪ at just 11 years old, maddie zoeggeler went from twirling on "dance moms" to starring in all the greatest music videos. racking up billions of views. >> the first time i showed her, she cried. ever since we were like best
friends. what's next for the little leaper? and judge gaga. ♪ i'm on the edge >> gaga back on the edge of glory as the newest judge in "rupaul's drag race." why the happy host says mother monster felt right at home on rupaul's show. ♪ i'm on the edge >> first here is the "nightline 5." >> hey, need fast heartburn relief? try cool mint zantac. it releases a cooling sensation in your mouth and throat. zantac works in as little as 30 minutes. nexium can take 24 hours. no pill relieves heartburn faster. what's your dog food's first ingredient? corn? wheat? in purina one true instant grain free, chicken is number one. no corn, wheat or soy. support your active dog's whole body health with purina one. number
good evening. a new documentary produced by jay-z profiles a tragic failure of the justice system. this is one young man's story that is not only horrifying but also preventible. here's my "nightline" coanchor byron pitts. >> rikers. >> reporter: for khalif crowder, justice wasn't simply blind, it betrayed him. >> i felt i was done wrong, i felt something needed to be done. >> reporter: arrested at age 16 for stealing a backpack -- >> two males last night, they took my brother -- >> reporter: he'd spend more than three years at notorious rikers island jail. much of it, 800 days, in solitary confinement. he was never tried. a breakdown of the system that broke him.
>> i'm always thinking about jail. i'm a mess. i'm 21 and inside i feel like i'm 40. >> reporter: "nightline" spoke with crowder in october 2014. optimistic, earned his ged, started classes at bronx community college, pulling a 3.56 gpa. but the psychological trauma from jail was haunting. inescapable. seven months after that "nightline" interview, kalief browder hung himself with an air conditioning cord at his home in the bronx. he was 22. >> they destroyed my life, my family's life. >> reporter: the truth of the hellish nightmare he endured inside rikers, crueller than fiction. the harsh reality now being explored in a six-part spike tv documentary. "time: the kalief browder story." produced by the weinstein company and jay-z. >> people see his story and realize, man, this is going on. this is not like one case that
happened. this is happening a lot. >> is this one of those tales, because what happened to him at each stage was so history risk, it's so unbelievable though true, that it couldn't happen again? >> part of what makes this story so horrific is that it's happening every day. and that khalif is one of many, many kids who are experiencing a similar issue. >> reporter: in life, khalif offered a cautionary tale about the inefficiency of the criminal justice system. in death he became a martyr. >> i deeply wish we hadn't lost him, but he did not die in vain. >> reporter: new york city ended solitary confinement for 16 and 17-year-olds. last year new york state passed khalif's law to ensure a speedy trial. president obama penned an op ed citing browder's story calling for the end of solitary for juveniles nationwide. >> we've seen prophets come in many shapes and forms. we've seen sometimes tragedy happens to our prophets.
martin luther king. i believe this young man, his story, will save other lives. >> reporter: adding voices to the beat of jay-z, khalif's siblings fighting for justice reform. calling for the closing of rikers island. >> why do you think it needs to be shut down? >> it's ludicrous how we can put human beings behind cables, forget about them, then release them back into society. it's not human. >> reporter: the series features never before seen outtakes captured during "nightline's" 2014 interview. >> tell me when this gets annoying. >> when your subject is no longer with you, every bit of footage that's ever existed of them becomes that much more significant. "nightline" footage really actually helped us tell this story in a way we never would have been able to do. >> reporter: the docu-series attempts to further humanize khalif through recreations. >> he gets hit upside the head with a big injustice stick. in that moment he was innocent. and that matters to people. >> i didn't rob nobody. >> you didn't? >> no. >> reporter: there are rushing
deposition tapes and alarming jail security video that made national news. just 5'5", browder was an acorn who stood up to oak trees inside rikers. >> i remember khalif calling me out. he said he wanted to fight me individually. one on one. mano a mano. you know me. i said, come on, let's fight. >> reporter: he refused to join a gang so inmates beat him. guards mocked him. >> nobody protecting me. i'm by myself. there you have to fight for the phone. you have to fight to be able to sit at the table. you have to fight for people not to take your commissary. you have to fight for any little thing. >> reporter: the anger, isolation and brutality khalif found in jail would stay with him long after he went home. >> this is how he releases his anger. >> reporter: weighing heavily on his friends and family. >> when he thinks about rikers, he gets really upset. >> who was khalif before he went to rikers? >> he was a normal kid, he was a
teenager. >> when he comes home from rikers, who is he? >> soulless. he wasn't the same anymore. >> he did a lot that resembled him being in jail, which was he used to line up bottles on the windowsill and talk to them. because that was something he did since he didn't have human contact in jail. >> it sounds like that even when he was out of rikers, rikers was still in him? >> perfectly put, actually. >> reporter: studies show prolonged stays in solitary confinement can lead to paranoia, hallucinations, irritability, aggression, suicidal thoughts, and emotional breakdowns leading to even greater damage among adolescents whose brains are still developing. >> i must have took about four, five trips to the box, to solitary equipment. and it wasn't easy. i practically lost my mind. and i feel like i still lost my mind. sometimes, you know, i feel like i have screws loose, like i'm never going to be the same.
>> how do you all see his story? >> devastating. it's hard to watch. it's hard to hear. it's hard to constantly repeat, to see him go through all of that. it's like he tried to live a normal life in a world where humans failed him. >> why do you think this happened to khalif? is it because he was black, because he was poor, because he had a prior record? >> i would say the first two that you said nails it. if i'm an officer on the street, i'm trained to look at a black and brown-skinned person differently than i am to a white person. >> reporter: after khalif's death, his family would file a $20 million lawsuit against the city of new york and other parties. his mother vinita browder spoke with me in 2015. has anyone apologized to you for li rikers? >> no. >> from the prosecutor's office? >> no. >> what do you hope happens now? >> i want them to be responsible. to admit that it was their fault
that my son is dead. he spent three years in hell. >> it sounds like you're in that hell now. >> i will be in hell until the day i die. because i found my son hanging. it's not one person, it's a whole system. that destroyed my son. and i want them all to pay. >> reporter: vinita's hell would end without apology. last october she died. >> when khalif hung himself, she couldn't ever recover from it. >> it sounds like she died of a broken heart. >> she did, absolutely. i tried to get her help as much as possible. i did. i tried so hard. even offering to, you know, be with her during any session. i tried really, really hard. i tried. i'm sorry. i tried so hard. and it's just -- >> it's okay. >> it's so hard for me. >> what do you hope comes out of telling khalif's story?
>> i hope that people understand that khalif is not the only one. we hope that they doesn't happen ever again. >> and you are mr. kalief browder, is that correct? >> yes. >> reporter: from the grave, from the screen, kalief browder forever a grim reminder justice delayed is justice denied. for him there was neither justice nor peace. >> i wanted more for myself. i feel like i deserve more. i should have, i don't know -- >> reporter: for "nightline" i'm byron pitts in new york. >> "time: the kalief browder story" airs wednesday on spike tv. coming up next this 14-year-old music video star just published a memoir. what did you do today? and later -- ♪ applause >> applause for lady gaga. why she's joining rupaul on his hit tv show.
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she is a professional actress, music video star, people's choice award winner -- and also a middle schooler. she sits down with abc's abbie boudre boudreau. >> okay. one, two -- >> reporter: you might not recognize her without that signature pixie and nude leotard. but i'm with maddie zoeggeler. ♪ the dancer you can't take your eyes off of. in video "the greatest."
♪ she burst onto the scene at just 11 years old, dancing her heart out in the chandelier music video. the video viewed more than 1.5 billion times. ♪ since then she's starred in four other videos including "cheap thrills." ♪ i got you baby >> when i'm older i want to look back and go, wow, i got to do so many cool things. even now at 11 years old, i had like over 1 million views on video. >> billion. >> yeah. >> reporter: she may only be 14 years old but today she's got a new memoir called "the maddie diaries." full of stories from life in the spotlight. >> hello, everyone. >> reporter: maddie may be wise beyond her years. but insists she's just like other teen girls. even though not many have nearly 9 million instagram followers. >> i feel like a lot of girls that it's hard to relate to me because i've done so many cool
opportunities. but really i'm just like everyone else. >> reporter: maddie's rise from pittsburgh to hollywood began when she was 8. >> these are my daughters maddie and mckenzie. >> reporter: when she was cast in lifetime's "dance moms." a surprise hit. >> i'm an adult. >> act like one! >> reporter: viewers couldn't get enough of the contentious relationships between coach abby lee miller, her young students -- >> oh my god, what is mentally wrong with you? >> reporter: and their mothers. including maddie's momma lisa. >> melissa, you're doing your kid an injustice. >> i guess her take was she's making you better and better and better? >> yeah, and i feel like since i'm such a perfectionist, i want everything to be perfect. >> reporter: after six seasons, maddie and her sister mckenzie finally left the show. >> when they told me they didn't want to be on the show anymore, i was happy. i said, no problem. >> my sister and i were like, that's it. >> they were finished. >> did you ever have that moment
where you thought, as a mother, "dance moms," this is breaking my daughters' spirit? >> yeah, my gosh, absolutely. all the time. >> i was stressed out as a 12-year-old. that's really weird to me. now i have so much weight off my shoulders. oh, i can just live my life, do something without worrying and thinking, oh, i'm going to get yelled at if why this. now i can do whatever i want. i mean -- stuff my mom lets me do. >> reporter: maddie has "dance moms" to thank for one of the most important relationships in her life with sia. >> she was a huge fan of the show "dance moms." she tweeted me, will you be in my music video? i'm just like, that's crazy. >> just wanting to wish you a very happy book release day. grat lation realize you're my very special friend. i love you so much. i just adore you. >> tell bus that relationship. >> the first time i showed her "chandelier," the dance, she cried. ever since then, we were just like best friends. it's weird to think, because we
have such a big age gap. but people -- >> you're 14, she's in her 40s. >> yeah. so people are like, how does that work? but we're best friends. she gives me a lot of great lessons in life to make sure that i'm not overworking or just making sure that i'm having fun with everything that i'm doing, which i really appreciate. >> reporter: but some have criticized maddie's dancing in sia's videos for being too risque. a then 12-year-old maddie's performance in "elastic hearts" with shia labeouf. ♪ were you surprised so many people were so concerned and thought it was so controversial? >> i think sometimes people have nothing better to do than hit behind their computer, their phone, and say mean things about you. i mean, it was a really cool video. >> were you concerned with the video with shia? >> not at all. no, i think it's art. just like a play. i loved it. >> reporter: part of the art for sia is concealing her identity. the singer famously hides her face in public, wearing her
infamous wig. >> a lot of the people ask me, have you ever seen her face before? i'm like, it's not like she walks around with a wig in front of her face every single second of the day. it's only when she's in public and stuff. she's like the most beautiful person. and i love her so much. >> reporter: the social media darling is taking her own recognition and building an empire of her own. >> hey, everyone. it's maddie. and i'm -- >> reporter: from her addictive youtube tutorials to her upcoming movie debut in "the book of henry." >> you're living the hollywood dream. >> people say that, you're a celebrity, you're famous. i'm like, i'm really not. i always think of myself, i'm just a normal kid. >> reporter: like most teenagers, maddie faces insecurities of her own. >> i'm not as on myself anymore as i used to be. it's okay to get knocked down sometimes. because it does make you want to work harder the next time around. and also i'm okay to have imperfections. i'm okay with it now. i'm okay that i have some flaws. ♪ >> reporter: when you watch any of the sia videos, what you
can't help but notice is just how much fun maddie is having. >> do some of the crazy pieces you do in some of the videos. >> reporter: despite dance still being what she loves the most, she says what may be most important is being a role model for her young fans. do you realize how big of a role model you are? >> i didn't really realize that until like last year. and there were kids that came up to me and said that they started dancing because of me. there was a girl that said she was going through rough times but then she looked to me and it helped her get through the rough times. it's really cool to think that i'm like a positive light in people's lives. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm abbie boudreau in beverly hills. next -- ♪ call the paparazzi. lady gaga and rupaul sharing the same stage. ♪ paparazzi
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♪ he's the supermodel of the world and america's most famous drag queen. rupaul is back and ready to spill all the secrets on season nine of his hit show "rupaul's drag race." telling gma's lara spencer one of the show's biggest guests is no perfect illusion. ♪ it was a perfect illusion >> you have gotten lady gaga to get involved? >> she's on our first show. which is brilliant. she started around drag queens and the downtown culture. so she felt right at home. >> i actually had the opportunity to sit down with rupaul where he taught me a thing or two. do you think i am missing out on something because i have never done and probably will never do drag? >> there are aspects of your personality that you don't even know about until you get into drag. i'm looking at you here, you're gorgeous. you've got a sexy little body there. you've got good teeth and good hair. >> reporter: while drag may not