Britney Spears' biography is somewhat typical of the child stars who start entertaining at a very young age, with pinnacles of success and very public low points. Spears started out as a talented young singer and dancer and soon moved on to international fame and fortune as a pop star.
Britney Jean Spears was born on Dec. 2, 1981, in Louisiana to Jamie and Lynne Spears. Spears' father was a contractor and her mother was a teacher. At an early age, Spears enjoyed singing, dancing and performing. She moved to New York with her mother and sister at age 8 to attend the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan during the summer for several years. At age 11, she auditioned for The New Mickey Mouse Club and won a spot on the show, living and working in Florida for two years.
At age 16, Britney Spears signed a contract with Jive Records to develop an album. Her first single was "...Baby One More Time," released in 1998 to huge praise. Spears opened for the popular boy band -N Sync during their concert tour. Her album, also named ...Baby One More Time, debuted at the top of the charts, prompting a solo tour in June 1999.
It didn't take long for Spears to get back into the recording studio, and in 2000 her second album was released. Oops!...I Did It Again sold more than a million copies in the first week of availability, solidifying Spears as a solid pop presence. Spears earned several Grammy nominations for that album. Her third and fourth albums, 2001's Britney and 2003's In the Zone, respectively, were also hits. After a recording hiatus in which Spears' personal life spiraled out of control, she managed to release her fifth album, Blackout, in 2007. Again, after significant health issues and various court appearances, Spears managed to release an album, Circus, in 2008 to generally positive reviews.
After several high profile relationships, Britney Spears married dancer Kevin Federline in 2004. The couple had two sons, Sean Preston, born in 2005, and Jayden James, born in 2006. However, the marriage was troubled and Spears filed for divorce at the end of 2006.
Her behavior throughout 2007 and 2008 was erratic and dangerous at times. Spears was photographed at wild parties, and had shaved her head in a tattoo shop. She was involved in a series of driving accidents, including driving without a license. Spears experienced several failed attempts at drug rehab, so concerned friends and family members reported her to authorities and her two children were removed from her custody.
After several years of court appearances, competency examinations and general progress, she was awarded visitation rights in 2008 to see her sons, who remained in custody of their father.