Britney Jean Spears was born on Dec. 2, 1981, to James Parnell Spears and Lynne Irene Bridges. Her dad was a building contractor and her mom a former teacher.
She was born in Kentwood, La., and raised a Southern Baptist.
Britney has a younger sister, Jamie Lynn, who starred in the Nickelodeon TV show “Zoey 101,” and an older brother, Bryan.
Britney was heavily involved in gymnastics as a child, competing in state-level competitions and taking classes until she was 9.
She also performed in various dance revues, and was auditioning for "MMC," aka the New Mickey Mouse Club, by the time she was 8.
She was considered too young to be on the show, but by auditioning she was introduced to a New York agent and spent three summers at the NYC Professional Performing Arts School. She also performed in several off-Broadway plays and commercials.
In 1992, Britney was accepted into "MMC" and began her two-year tenure, along with several other future stars, including Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Keri Russell.
She remained on the show from ages 11-13, and went on to record a demo. The demo reached a Jive Records executive, and she was signed to their label. She later joined with *NSYNC and became their opening act.
In 1998, Britney’s first single was released and began to run on the radio and MTV. “Hit Me Baby One More Time” featured a teenage Britney in a revealing schoolgirl outfit, and became a huge success internationally, hitting No. 1 in the U.S., among other countries.
It earned platinum sales and became the biggest selling song of 1999, and the 24th biggest selling song of all time.
Her album of the same name topped the charts in Canada and the U.S. for six non-consecutive weeks. Within a year, it became the best-selling LP by a teenager ever.
“You Drive Me Crazy” also became a Top Ten hit, and helped the album to sell 25 million copies worldwide. The video and song sparked the image of Britney as a highly sexualized young girl.
While publicly, Britney maintained proclamations of her virginity, her career choices and music portrayed her as a sexual figure.
In April 1999, Britney posed for a sexually suggestive cover of Rolling Stone magazine. The cover touched off a debate over whether the 17-year-old star had gotten breast implants, which her representatives denied.
That same year, she began her headlining tour and received numerous award nominations.
In December at the Billboard Music Awards, she won Female Artist of the Year, and in January at the American Music Awards she won Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist.
In February at the Grammys she was nominated for two awards, including Best New Artist.
When the first single from Britney’s second album, “Oops!…I Did It Again,” hit the airwaves, it broke a record for most radio station adds in a single day. It also became a Top Ten hit in the U.S. and hit No. 1 in several other countries.
The album debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and Canada. It was the fastest-selling album by a female artist ever, selling over 1.3 million copies in the first week.
Britney began her first world tour for “Oops!…I Did It Again” in summer 2000. She also co-wrote a book with her mother, entitled “Britney Spears’ Heart-to-Heart.”
At the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, Britney tore off a black suit to reveal a nude-colored outfit covered with crystals. Due to her young age, it became a controversial performance. She won two Billboard Music Awards that year, and was nominated for two Grammys, but didn’t win.
Rumors of a relationship between Britney and Justin Timberlake were sparked and later confirmed, which made the couple an immediate media favorite.
In 2001, Britney signed a promotional deal for $7-8 million dollars with Pepsi, and released another book, entitled “A Mother’s Gift,” co-written with her mother.
Her MTV Music Awards performance generated controversy yet again, due to her being barely dressed and using animals (including a python) in her performance, which angered animal rights activists.
In November, Britney released the album, “Britney,” which debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and Canada. “I’m a Slave 4 U” became the album’s only hit single in the U.S. This was the first album where Britney contributed to the creative aspect of the production: she co-wrote five of the songs.
In 2002, Britney’s first film, “Crossroads,” was released to a barrage of negative reviews by critics. It debuted at No. 2, but quickly declined.
That same year, Britney’s relationship with Timberlake ended. The general impression was that Britney had been unfaithful in the relationship, which she didn’t directly deny.
Timberlake also made public the fact that they had sex during their relationship, which Britney initially denied, but later acknowledged as true.
In June, Britney opened a restaurant, NYLA, in NYC, named for its mix of New York and Louisiana-style foods. It did not do well, and closed the following year.
Britney then dropped out of the spotlight for a while, but Forbes named her the most powerful celebrity in the world that year.
In 2003, Britney returned to the headlines. She performed with Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards, and the two shared a full-on kiss, which received huge amounts of media attention.
In November of that year, Britney released her fourth album, “In the Zone.” Britney co-wrote nine of the album’s songs, as well as co-producing some of her own material.
The album debuted at the top of the charts, making Britney the only female artist ever to have her first four albums debut at No. 1. The song “Toxic” from the album won Britney her first Grammy for Best Dance Recording.
On Jan. 3, 2004, Britney married her childhood friend Jason Alexander at The Little White Wedding Chapel in Vegas. The wedding was annulled within 55 hours.
Soon after, Britney went off on her fourth world tour, The Onyx Hotel Tour. The tour grossed over $34 million, but later dates were canceled due to a reported knee injury Britney sustained during filming for a video.
That month, Britney also announced her engagement to back-up dancer Kevin Federline. Media attention to the romance was intense, especially since Federline had very recently broken up with actress Shar Jackson, who was still pregnant with their second child at the time.
On Sept. 18, 2004, in a small surprise ceremony in Studio City, Calif., Britney and Kevin were married.
Also in September 2004, Britney released her first fragrance, called Curious. The scent broke Elizabeth Arden’s first-week gross for a perfume, and ended up being the No. 1 fragrance of 2004 in department stores. Britney released anther fragrance, “Fantasy,” in September 2005.
In late 2004, Britney’s first collection was released, “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative.” It debuted at No. 4 on the charts, though it had very little promotion.
In 2005, Britney and Kevin starred in their own reality show entitled, “Britney and Kevin: Chaotic.” The series consisted of five episodes, but ratings were not as high as expected for the show.
In April 2005, Britney officially announced her pregnancy. Sean Preston Federline was born on Sept. 14, 2005, at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, Calif.
Another album, “B in the Mix: The Remixes” was released late in 2005. There was no promotion for the album, and it debuted outside the Top 100.
In photos published in February 2006, Britney was shown driving with her son, Sean, on her lap instead of in a car seat. Child advocates were horrified by the photos of Britney holding the wheel with one hand and Sean with the other.
Britney claimed that the situation happened because of a frightening encounter with paparazzi, and that it was a mistake on her part.
In April 2006, Sean Preston fell and bruised his head after he slipped from his nanny’s grasp as she was taking him out of his high chair.
The report said that “something snapped” in the chair, and that was why he fell. He was taken to the UCLA Medical Center, and pronounced to be fine, but Britney and Kevin took him back six days later for a follow-up, where he was pronounced to be fine once again.
Child welfare officials visited Spears' home, but determined that there was no problem and no reason to open an investigation.
In 2006, Britney guest-starred on “Will & Grace,” and she also released a limited-edition scent called In Control.
In May 2006, Britney announced on the “Late Show with David Letterman” that she was pregnant with her second child.
In June, Britney posed naked for the cover of Harper's Bazaar in a picture similar to the 1991 cover of Vanity Fair featuring a nude and pregnant Demi Moore.
On Sept. 12, 2006, Britney gave birth to her second son, Jayden James, just days before her first child's first birthday.
On Nov. 6, Britney appeared on "The Late Show With David Letterman" sporting a blond bob and showing off her newly svelte figure in a short black dress.
The next day, Britney officially filed for divorce from Federline after two years of marriage, citing "irreconcilable differences" and confirming media speculation that the union was troubled.
In the divorce papers, Britney asked for custody of the two children, with visitation rights for Kevin. He shot back with court papers asking for sole custody and seeking spousal support from his estranged wife, citing that the couple's community assets were "uncertain."
Reportedly, Britney text-messaged Kevin the news that she wanted a divorce. The moment of Kevin receiving the reported text was caught on tape by Canada's MuchMusic channel as they were filming "K-Fed."
After news of the divorce, Britney began appearing in public regularly. Initially, she was seen ice skating at Rockefeller Center and shopping for sweaters at the Gap in New York City.
Then, in late November, photos began to surface of Britney partying with Paris Hilton in L.A. and Vegas. The two were seen hitting various clubs, and were spotted out all night drinking and dancing on several occasions.
A photo of Britney, Paris and Lindsay Lohan out on the town together got widespread circulation.
Then, very revealing pictures of Britney exiting a car without underwear were snapped by the paparazzi and plastered all over the Internet, causing a huge buzz.
In February, Britney entered a rehab facility, but left after less than 24 hours.
The next day, photogs captured her going to a hair salon in Tarzana, Calif., where she proceeded to shave her own head. Photos of bald Britney circulated quickly and drew huge media attention, leading many to suggest that the action was a cry for help.
Paparazzi again caught Britney behaving oddly when they took pictures of her outside Federline's house. When she was reportedly told she couldn't see her children, who were staying with K-Fed, Britney attacked his car with an umbrella.
Britney later re-entered rehab at the Promises facility in Malibu, Calif., completing a monthlong stay at Promises in March.
In May, Spears posted on her Web site saying she "hit rock bottom" in rehab.
"Recently, I was sent to a very humbling place called rehab. I truly hit rock bottom. Till this day I don't think that it was alcohol or depression," she wrote. "I was like a bad kid running around with ADD."
Spears' divorce from Federline became official July 30. Her erratic behavior continued throughout the summer, from car trouble to parading around half naked to disastrous magazine shoots.
But Britney mania culminated once again on Sept. 9, when her much-hyped "comeback" performance opening MTV's Video Music Awards was universally panned.
Spears appeared in shimmery black bikini that many said was too revealing for her post-baby body. She also appeared nervous, not up to her dance moves and barely tried to lip synch along with the lyrics.
Some, including hip-hop star Kanye West, blamed MTV for exploiting the troubled star.
In October, Superior Court Commissioner Scott Gordon ruled that 2-year-old Sean Preston and 1-year-old Jayden James should remain with Federline until she complies with a court order for random weekly drug testing.
The commissioner cited evidence that Spears engaged in "habitual, frequent and continuous use of controlled substances and alcohol."
He also ordered Britney and Kevin to take parenting classes.
That same month, Spears regained temporary visitation rights of her sons and was allowed to have three monitored visits a week.
In October, Britney released her fifth album, "Blackout" — her first studio album in four years.
Besides a video for her debut single "Gimme More" and the widely panned performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, Spears didn't promote the record.
Two weeks after its release, "Blackout" was No. 30 on Amazon.com and was falling fast off the charts.
Also in November, Spears was ordered to pay much of the $154,500 in legal fees that Federline owes to his attorney for the custody battle.
Days after the ruling, Spears was captured running a red light at a notoriously dangerous Los Angeles intersection with her two young sons in the back and a court-appointed monitor in the front.
On Jan. 3, 2008, Spears was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center by paramedics after police were called to her home because of a dispute involving her two sons. Britney reportedly refused to hand them over to Federline.
An officer at the scene said Spears appeared to be "under the influence," but subsequent reports said Spears is suffering from mental illness, not substance abuse.
At an emergency hearing the following day, a court commissioner suspended Spears' right to visit her sons. The commissioner also gave sole physical and legal custody to Federline.
On Jan. 31, Spears' parents, psychiatrist and LAPD all reportedly worked together to once again commit Britney to the psychiatric ward at UCLA Medical Center.
The following day, Court Commissioner Reva Goetz ruled that Spears needed someone else to take over her personal and financial affairs. Spears' father, James, and her attorney, Andrew Wallet, were granted conservatorship.
In early February, her stay at the hospital was extended for two weeks under a section in state law that allows patients to be kept for medical treatment if they are found to be gravely disabled or a danger to themselves or others, a person close to the pop star told The Associated Press.
In July, Britney and ex-husband Kevin Federline reached a custody agreement for their two sons.
Federline's lawyer Mark Vincent Kaplan told OK! magazine that "all parties have agreed to the following: Kevin will retain sole legal and physical custody of Sean Preston and Jayden James. Britney will continue to have visitation rights which may increase over time."
In Touch magazine reported that according to the terms of the agreement, Spears will continue to have monitored visitation with her sons two days a week and one overnight.
Those visitations could periodically increase, one day at a time, until custody is shared equally with Federline — but only if Britney's father, Jamie Spears, continues to serve as her conservator, according to reports.
On July 25, it was announced that Spears was in the running for a Video Music Award for her song "Piece of Me." Spears will compete in the category against Katy Perry for "I Kissed a Girl," Rihanna for "Take a Bow," Mariah Carey for "Touch My Body" and Jordin Sparks for "No Air."
Release date: Nov. 6, 2001
"In the Zone"
Release date: Nov. 18, 2003
"Greatest Hits: My Prerogative"
Release date: Nov. 9, 2004
"B in the Mix: The Remixes"
Release date: Nov. 22, 2005
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2007