Britney Jean Spears was born on December 2, 1981 in the small town of Kentwood, Louisiana (population 2,200). Her mother, Lynne, devoted herself to nurturing her eldest daughter's talent from the time Britney was three. Her father, Jamie, had a drinking problem that magnified as his construction business faced a downturn.
On February 20, 2007, Spears checked into Promises rehab center. The next day, she took out her rage at the paparazzi by attacking a photographer's car with an umbrella. After she emerged from Promises, she cut communication with the people who had insisted she go to treatment: Rudolph, Federline and her parents. Somehow, during this time, she recorded what would become her next album, Blackout.
After several tracks from Blackout leaked to the Internet, word broke that Spears would make her grand comeback at the MTV Video Music Awards, site of her most beloved performances. Spears did have a routine planned but was not enthusiastic about it: she skipped several rehearsals and ditched a rumored collaboration with illusionist Criss Angel just days before the ceremony. Here, she opens the show with her single "Gimme More," but the performance is deemed a disappointment.
On October 30, 2007, Blackout was released to mostly positive reviews. However, in the wake of Spears' shaky VMAs performance, her new management team quit. Aside from a radio interview with Ryan Seacrest on L.A.'s KISS-FM, Spears did not promote the album. Blackout debuted at Number Two, making it Spears' first studio LP not to immediately top the charts.
Spears celebrates her 26th birthday at the Scandinavian Style Mansion in Bel Air, California, on December 1, 2007. In October, after months of public partying, she lost custody of her children to Federline. In late December, she debuted the video for Blackout's second single, "Piece of Me," but the clip became more famous for its difficult shoot (Spears kept the crew waiting for twelve hours). Stories of Spears' increasingly erratic behavior filled blogs and celebrity magazines.
Spears' custody battle with her ex-husband took a turn for the worst on January 3, 2008, when the singer refused to relinquish youngest son Jayden James and locked herself in a bathroom with him. Police, ambulances and helicopters swarmed her home; Spears was removed from her mansion strapped to a gurney and taken to a hospital for observation. The following day, a court order stripped Spears of her visitation rights.
After being released from the hospital in 2008, Spears began spending more time with her new paparazzo boyfriend, Adnan Ghalib, and her new manager, Sam Lutfi. She was photographed running errands to drugstores and Starbucks and missed her custody hearings.
On January 31, 2008, Spears was forcibly hospitalized again at UCLA Medical Center. Her parents went to court to wrestle control of her affairs from Lutfi, whom they claim had drugged and confused the pop star. Despite speculation that Spears suffered from bipolar disorder or hysteria, she was released from the hospital halfway through her mandated two-week stay, and she returned to driving around Los Angeles with the paparazzi in tow.
On February 1, 2008, Spears' father was granted a temporary conservatorship, which allowed him full control of his daughter's affairs (including her medical treatment and finances). Later in the month, Spears was allowed to resume supervised visits with her children after she and Federline agreed to amend the court order that had eliminated her visitation rights.
In March 2008, Spears got back to work – on the small screen, anyway. Here, she guest-stars as a receptionist at a doctor's office on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
Spears was involved in a minor car accident on April 12, 2008, when she allegedly rear-ended another motorist on a L.A. freeway. Nobody was injured or arrested, but Spears but was forced to stand trial over an August 2007 fender-bender where she hit a parked car and was charged with driving without a license. That case ended in a mistrial in October 2008.
On July 18, 2008, news broke that Spears and Federline had ended their custody battle over Sean Preston and Jayden James. Federline retained full custody of the children, while Spears retained visitation rights.
Spears opened up to OK! Magazine about getting back in the studio to record a new album, calling her fresh tunes "my best work ever." She also began appearing in commercials for MTV's Video Music Awards alongside its host, Russell Brand.
Spears appears onstage at MTV's 2008 Video Music Awards to accept her first-ever Moonmen awards, which she wins for her "Piece of Me" video.
Here, Spears' mother appears on the Today show to plug her tell-all parenting book, Lynne Spears: Through the Storm.
On October 28th, 2008, a California court awarded father Jamie Spears permanent legal control over Britney and her affairs. In an MTV documentary, Spears equated her life to prison: "If I wasn't under the restraints I'm under, I'd feel so liberated."
Spears shoots the video for "Womanizer," the first single from her new album, Circus. On September 26, 2008, "Womanizer" hit the radio; four days later, she told a New York radio DJ to expect a world tour in the next year. On October 10, the "Womanizer" video premiered on 20/20, giving fans a glimpse of a fit, impressive Spears.
Spears launched Circus (which receives a 3.5 star review in Rolling Stone) with a media blitz, including an appearance on Good Morning America live from the Big Apple Circus.
In March 2009, Spears kicked off her fifth world tour. With four legs, 97 shows and all of the North American dates sold out, the concert quickly became the fifth highest-grossing tour ever by a female artist and the fifth highest-grossing concert of the year. The show featured acrobatics, pyrotechnics and a video of the singer covering the Eurythmics classic "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)."
Britney receives the "Ultimate Choice Award" at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.
The Singles Collection, Spears' second hits compilation, celebrated her 10 years in the music industry. The lead single, a new track called "3," debuted at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the singer's third Number One song in the United States.
In May 2010, Spears' reps confirmed that the singer and her former agent, Jason Trawick, were dating. Here, the couple attends the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards.
After a huge fan campaign breaks on Twitter, Britney was asked to guest-star on Glee. Her appearance gave the show its highest single-episode ratings to date. Here, she poses with the cast.
Spears released her seventh studio album, Femme Fatale, on March 29th, 2011. "I've poured my heart and soul into this album over the last two years," Britney said via Twitter. "I've put everything I have into it. This album is for you, my fans, who have always supported me and have stuck by me every step of the way!" The album became Spears' sixth Number One album.
Spears accepts the Video Vanguard Award and Best Pop Video Award for "Till the World Ends" at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.