Big Sean poses in the press room at the BET Awards '11 held at the Shrine Auditorium on June 26, 2011 in Los Angeles

*After several years on the grind hustling mixtapes bearing various incarnations of the title “Finally Famous,” Big Sean has rapped the name into existence with the June 28 release of his full length studio debut, “Finally Famous.”

Born Sean Michael Anderson in Santa Monica, Calif., the MC has called Detroit home ever since the age of 2 months. He graduated from the infamous Cass Technical High School, which also churned out Motown great Diana Ross, not to mention Della Reese, David Alan Grier and Donald Byrd.

It was in 2005 when Sean approached Kanye West outside of Detroit’s Hot 102.7 and spat 16 bars at the superstar’s command.  Two years later, Kanye signed him to his label G.O.O.D. Music and the newbie’s first product, “Finally Famous Vol 1: The Mixtape,” hit the streets in 2008.

“Finally Famous Vol 2: UKNOWBIGSEAN” followed in 2009, and “Finally Famous Vol 3: BIG” made its debut in 2010 – both setting the stage for last month’s studio release and its Chris Brown-featured hit single “My Last.” [Scroll down to watch the video.]

While Sean is astounded that he is finally living out his dream, he appears most proud of being able to maintain his close Cass Tech friendships despite the dramatic highs and lows that come with pursuing a music career.

“It’s crazy, I still got the friends I rode to school with standing right over there, so it’s a crazy journey for me man. I’m just living it, for real,” he said backstage at the recent BET Awards.

“Whenever you follow your heart, you always end up in the best place in life,” continued Sean, who co-hosts BET’s “106 & Park” tonight with Rocsi. “I went through a lot of hard times, a lot of bottoms where I really tested my faith, and it’s times like those that just make times like these that much better. I’m just so happy that I made my grandma proud, my mom proud, and to be able to put an album out.”

  • In the bonus audio below, Sean recalls experiencing a full-circle moment with his childhood friends that put his whole journey in perspective, and rubs his success in the face of Cass Tech teacher who said he was throwing his life away by choosing not to go to college.

Big Sean on a surreal moment with Kanye, Jay-Z and his childhood friends by CherieNic