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Kirk Douglas' Plea for Leniency on Grandson

Kirk Douglas has asked a judge to spare his drug-dealer grandson a harsh prison sentence, saying he hopes to see him turn around his life "before I die."

The film legend made the appeal in one of several letters of support filed Friday in federal court in Manhattan on behalf of Cameron Douglas.

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Other letters were penned by his celebrity stepmother, Catherine Zeta-Jones, NBA executive Pat Riley and longtime friends who described their despair over watching Cameron waste his talent as a budding actor. He had roles in movies including 2003's "It Runs in the Family," starring his father and grandfather.

Cameron Douglas, 31, is "a considerate, worthy human being," Zeta-Jones wrote.

The son of Academy Award winner Michael Douglas pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges he dealt methamphetamine out of a trendy Manhattan hotel.

The charges carry a minimum term of 10 years behind bars. But lawyers for the admitted heroin addict claimed in court papers their remorseful client was committed to sobriety, and argued he only deserves a maximum 3 1/2 years at sentencing next week.

In his letter, Kirk Douglas recalled how he recently traveled from Los Angeles to New York - "At 93, that's a long trip" - to visit his jailed grandson.

"He didn't express any self-pity, nor did he ask for any," he wrote. "The only sorrow he expressed was for the trouble he had caused others. ... I was shocked when he got in such a mess."

The famous grandfather concluded: "I'm convinced Cameron could be a fine actor. ... I hope I can see that happen before I die. I love Cameron."

Riley, president of the Miami Heat, said he got to know Douglas while coaching the Los Angeles Lakers.

"Cameron is not a criminal," Riley wrote. "I ask for mercy, judge."

Douglas was arrested July 28, 2009, at the Hotel Gansevoort as part of a Drug Enforcement Administration probe.

Investigators say Douglas was paid tens of thousands of dollars for smuggling meth - what he referred to in intercepted phone calls as "pastry" or "bath salts." Cash and drugs were routinely exchanged from coast to coast through shippers like FedEx, a criminal complaint said.

In the papers filed Tuesday, defense lawyers said Douglas had come to New York to look for an apartment when he had a chance encounter outside the hotel with a fellow guest and drug dealer who invited him to dinner.

Afterward, "the New York dealer asked Cameron to discuss a business proposition and invited him to his hotel room, where the New York dealer asked him if he could send him a pound of meth," the papers said. "Still impaired by his addiction, Cameron agreed and later flew to California to arrange the requested transaction."