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Backstreet Boy -- AJ Was Finally 'Willing' to Get Help

1/19/2011 5:20 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell claims there's one big difference between A.J. McLean's current stint in rehab and his last one -- no one FORCED him to get help this time.

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Brian went on Bob 93.3 in North Carolina this morning, telling the host, "I'm proud that he would go into this situation willingly ... Last time it was a lot worse. He really went into rehab unwillingly the last time."

According to Brian, A.J. decided to commit to rehab over a month ago ... while the band was on the road.

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