Dante Martin, 27, a former Florida A&M University (FAMU) band member, was sentenced to 77 months in prison for the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion in 2011.
Before the ruling, the judge described Martin as a "remarkable young man" with "limitless potential" but added that the circumstances of Champion's death were "profoundly disturbing," the Orlando Sentinel reported.
Prosecutors called Martin the ringleader of a brutal hazing ritual that led to 26-year-old Champion's death on the bus of the famous Marching 100 band during halftime of a football game between FAMU and Bethune-Cookman University.
Martin faced up to 22 years in prison after he was convicted of manslaughter in October. He is the first of 15 former band members to receive jail time for the incident. Nine have been sentenced to combinations of community service and probation, the StarTribune reported.
Martin took the stand Friday, saying, "This is something I will live with for the rest of my life. Referring to the hazing ritual that killed Champion, he said, "Sometimes we just go with what is tradition. We don't second guess it, we don't doubt it."
During the ritual, Champion was made to walk shirtless from the front of the bus to back while band members punched, kicked and beat him with objects including a drum mallet and a traffic cone. He died of soft tissue bleeding, the medical examiner ruled.
The incident triggered widespread outrage and the band was suspended for more than a year.