The price of stardom can be exorbitant—and boy did Aaron Carter pay the ultimate price. While child stars spiraling out of control is nothing new, no one self-destructed quite like the prince of 2000s pop. Carter's chilling fall from grace is one of the darkest stories to come out of the music industry.
1. He Had An Iconic Brother
Aaron Carter was born on December 7, 1987, to Jane Elizabeth and Robert Gene Carter. His parents ran a Florida retirement home. But sadly, they were completely broke, and at their lowest point, they even resorted to raising their family out of a van. But that was all about to change.
Somehow, not one, but two superstars emerged from their offspring—and became famous, underage breadwinners. Aaron’s big brother is Nick Carter, one of the Backstreet Boys. At only nine, he became their opener, and a record deal quickly followed. Months later, Carter released his own album—but no one could have expected the response.
2. He Was A Instant Sensation
Aaron Carter sold 1,000,000 copies worldwide. In an instant, the nine-year-old became a global pop sensation. While it marked the beginning of a successful career, it also marked the end of his childhood. Carter’s life—for worse and worse—would never be the same. But he wasn't in the clear just yet.
Was this brush with stardom too good to last? Was he destined to be a one-hit wonder?
3. He Beat The Sophomore Slump
Sophomore slump? Carter never heard of it as his next album Aaron’s Party (Come Get It) sold 3,000,000 copies in the US alone. Three years later, Carter proved he wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
On top of his fame in the music industry, he also landed television, film, and Broadway gigs. Aaron was on top of the world. But what goes up must come down.
4. His Sales Dropped
The 13-year-old superstar released his third album, Oh Aaron. While it still earned a platinum certification, it wasn’t as successful as previous albums. This was the beginning of the end. A year later, the lackluster reception of Another Earthquake! made it clear that Carter’s music career was in slow decline—and his notorious manager didn’t help.
5. He Had A Shady Manager
In 2002, the Carter parents sued Aaron's former manager, Lou Pearlman. Pearlman was the mastermind behind the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC, making this debacle even juicier.
The Carters accused Pearlman of failing to pay them hundreds of thousands in royalties. They settled out of court, so the details remain a mystery. But what we do know is that Pearlman landed himself behind bars for 25 years after running one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in American history.
Turns out, poor Carter was one of his earliest victims. But this was only one dark consequence of many.
6. He Dated The Stars
What do Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan have in common? Not only are they former child stars, but they’ve also both dated Aaron Carter…at the same time.
When he was 13 years old, Carter began a relationship with Hilary. But their sweet young love turned sour after the pop star admitted that he “got a little bored” of her. Let the mess begin.
7. He Was A Bad Boyfriend
It turns out that Aaron Carter didn’t just move on fast: He cheated on Hilary. Even worse, Lindsay was her best friend. He later confessed, "I ended up cheating on Hilary with her best friend. That's nothing to smile about. She really got her heart broken from me and I'm sorry for that".
But it was too little, too late because he found himself in the middle of not only a love triangle, but an epic feud.
8. He Started A Feud
Fame, teenage angst, heartbreak, and betrayal: What could go wrong? The years-long battle between Hilary Duff and Lindsay Lohan became the talk of the town. They constantly threw shade at each other in music, interviews, and even performances.
Hilary’s new boyfriend Joel Madden even refused to give Lindsay’s eight-year-old brother an autograph until she apologized. But as Carter’s romantic relationships fell apart, he found no comfort at home.
9. He Got Bad News In The Worst Way
Finding out about your parents’ divorce was always going to suck—but how Carter found out made it so much worse. There’s a time and a place for everything, and an hour before filming MTV Cribs was not it.
The 17-year-old had to put on a brave face and suck it up. Sadly, this wasn’t the first or only time Aaron’s parents screwed him over.
10. He Had Irresponsible Parents
Turns out, Carter wasn’t just a victim of his manager’s greed: His own parents did him dirty. After giving up his childhood to entertain us and support the family, Carter should’ve been set for life. Instead, he made a horrific discovery after turning 18.
You see, parents were supposed to save at least 15% of their child’s earnings. Carter should’ve had $20 million in his account. Nope. He had $2 million. Even worse, he also had a $4 million tax bill. Thanks to mom and dad, money problems haunted him for the rest of his life.
11. He Quit Music
At 19, Carter ditched his record deal and label. In retaliation, Trans Continental Records sued him for breach of contract. Carter argued the record deal wasn’t valid because he signed it as a minor. While Carter emerged from this battle victorious, he began taking loss after loss in his career and personal life.
12. He Was Engaged
In Las Vegas, 19-year-old Aaron Carter proposed to adult model Kari Ann Peniche on stage. It was an intimate and romantic moment…shared with their 200 audience members. Six days later, their relationship and engagement ended up in flames.
Carter admitted his proposal was an impulsive mistake. Peniche called him out: “He’s really young and just needs to get his act together". She turned out to be painfully right.
13. He Had A Run In With The Law
In February 2008, law enforcement pulled the 20-year-old star over for driving too fast. Speeding became the least of his concerns after officers discovered illicit substances in his possession. The pop star became a prisoner after they took him away in cuffs.
Little did Carter know at the time, this would be far from his last run-in with the law.
14. He Needed Help
In January 2011, Carter’s team announced that he'd entered rehab "to heal some emotional and spiritual issues". But a source betrayed him and spilled the beans to the media.
They disclosed he actually went in for addiction. A month later, the media reported Carter successfully completed his treatment. But it became painfully obvious he still struggled with many demons.
15. He Had Regrets
After Hilary Duff went public with her relationship and pregnancy, Aaron Carter went through a rollercoaster of emotions. Initially, Carter insisted he was happy for her. Then, he admitted the what-ifs still kept him up at night.
Finally, he declared, “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to better myself to get back to her. I don’t care what ANY of you think". You never forget your first love, but Duff really wished Carter had—and boy, did she make it known.
16. He Faced Rejection
Duff didn’t exactly appreciate Carter’s public declarations. She admitted, “I don’t know how I feel. I mean, that was so long ago, and obviously, I’m still married, and I have a baby".
Duff even stated that they don’t “know each other” anymore. Ouch. Message received. While his first love clearly moved on, the past continued to haunt Carter.
17. He Tried To Revitalize His Career
It was clear that Carter’s career peaked in childhood, but he refused to give up. He tried everything to revitalize it, including reality television, Dancing with the Stars, musical theatre, and a grueling 150-show tour. But it barely dented the massive tax bill that had been looming over his head all these years (thanks mom and dad).
18. He Declared Bankruptcy
In 2013, Aaron Carter had to face the music and declared bankruptcy. It revealed that, despite his efforts, he still owed the tax man more than $3.5 million. Tragically, it wasn’t his fault: the debt was from his childhood career.
The adults in his life failed him. This incident also exposed things about his parents that made them look even worse.
19. He Had Exploitative Parents
Carter claimed his parents used his childhood earnings to buy 15 houses and 30 cars. Meanwhile, they didn’t set aside the required 15% for him. They also didn’t give him a cut of the profits after selling their ill-gotten riches. Sadly, this took an even darker turn.
Carter claims that after he refused to sign a $256,000 cheque, his father went too far. His dad pulled the trigger of a 44 Magnum next to his ear. This was not just a stressful experience, it caused 70% deafness in that ear. With parents like that, it’s no wonder Carter’s life went horribly wrong.
20. He Had Another Run In With The Law
In July 2017, Carter found himself behind bars and making headlines again. This time, it was for substances and impaired driving. The authorities caught him red-handed, so he pleaded guilty. Once again, Carter got off pretty easy.
For this second and third offense, he ended up with probation, community service, and a $1,500 fine. But just a month later, he gave everyone something even more exciting to discuss.
21. He Came Out
The former heartthrob made a surprise Twitter confession. The 29-year-old wrote, “This doesn’t bring me shame, just a weight and burden I have held onto for a long time that I would like lifted off me". Carter shared that at 13, he began finding both boys and girls attractive.
He received an outpouring of love and support. Carter later admitted he only sees himself in serious relationships with women. Unfortunately, these affairs always ended up in flames...or worse.
22. He Had A Crazy Girlfriend
In August 2019, the courts granted Aaron Carter a temporary restraining order against ex-girlfriend Lina Valentina. He claimed the Russian model got physical during arguments and threatened to stab him. Multiple times. But Carter didn’t show up to court to turn the temporary restraining order into a permanent one.
Valentina claimed his no-show proves that Carter knows these allegations were false. On the other hand, Carter claimed he just wants to move on with his life. Basically, this was a messy "he said, she said" situation. Speaking of mess, 2019 turned out to be one of his explosive periods.
In the same month, Carter made headlines yet again—for a bizarre controversy.
23. He Was Accused Of A Weird Scheme
After adopting a bulldog, Carter posted a video offering to sell the dog for $3,500. People accused him of flipping a rescue dog for profit. This infuriated Carter, who insisted it was just a joke.
He ranted that “with all due respect I own a home I make over $3 million a year I don’t need to sell a dog for money so have some respect and don’t try to slander my name because I will defend myself and I will take action. DONT TRY IT". This was yet another instance that raised concern for Carter’s state of mind.
24. He Was Dangerous
Once again, Aaron Carter followed in a family member’s footsteps—but this time, no one was happy about it. His dad had a collection containing over 500 firearms and insisted it was essential for self-defense. The troubled star began amassing his own collection.
While Carter saw no problem with this, it made everyone else really nervous, especially after a shocking confession.
25. He Dealt With Mental Illnesses
Aaron Carter surprised fans with more confessions—but not in a good way. The troubled star shared on television that he received an official diagnoses of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, manic depression, and anxiety. Carter also admitted he had a huffing addiction.
It became crystal clear that Carter had been struggling for a very long time with little help from his parents. Naturally, television producers pounced on this troubled family.
26. He Resented His Mom
Carter and his mom appeared on Marriage Bootcamp: Family Edition, a reality series that attempts to mend broken relationships. Boy did the producers have their work cut out for them.
The show tackled everything from his mother's drinking problem to her reckless spending. Basically, the episode was a disaster. But even that was tame compared to the drama between the Carter siblings.
27. He Made Serious Accusations
Around the same time as Marriage Bootcamp, Carter accused several family members of inappropriately touching him as a child. He started with Leslie, his now-deceased older sister. Carter later accused Nick of hurting not only him but countless other victims.
While Carter’s relationships with his siblings had been strained—to put it lightly—for years, the worse was yet to come.
28. He Had Restraining Orders
Barely a month later, Aaron Carter received two restraining orders. You may be thinking this former heartthrob filed them against a pair of obsessive fans, right? Or even against another ex? Nope.
These restraining orders were against him. Even more shockingly, Nick and Angel—his siblings—filed them. This wasn’t just petty sibling drama either. This time, he went way too far.
29. He Crossed A Line
When Angel Facetimed Aaron, she wasn’t expecting him to confess his mental health struggles. Concerned, she asked her volatile twin if he heard voices. That's when Carter made another confession.
Turns out, he did hear voices, but to make matters worse, these voices were telling him to end the life of Lauren Kitt, Nick’s pregnant wife. Nick put up with a lot from Aaron over the years, but this was terrifyingly extreme and he had to act.
30. He Became Estranged From His Brother
Nick Carter successfully convinced a court to grant him a restraining order against his younger brother. Aaron Carter viciously denied these accusations. He even took to Twitter to spill the beans on their strained relationship: “I haven’t seen him in four years. And I don’t intend".
Carter ended his rant by cutting his brother off: “Take care. @nickcarter we’re done for life". Sadly, the family drama didn’t end there.
31. He Became Estranged From His Sister
Yet another Carter sibling followed in Nick’s footsteps—but not in the catchy music way. The courts granted Angel a restraining order after a terrifying phone call where Carter allegedly vowed to send hit men after her. Specifically, Carter informed her, "I have people that would come and harm you".
Given his past behavior and arsenal, Angel took it seriously. The court case revealed even more chilling things about this phone call.
32. He Showed His True Colors
According to Angel’s court documents, Carter said even more shocking things. He confessed to lighting a poor turtle on fire as a kid...and feeling nothing. After he threatened Angel, his then-girlfriend Lina empathized with her: "Angel, how do you think I feel with him sleeping with a sword next to him?"
Aaron responded, "Shut up Lina, you are next on my list". Yikes.
33. He Had A Clueless Partner
Melanie Martin learned, in the worst way, that love is blind. While the Bulgarian bartender and adult entertainer knew Aaron Carter had struggled with addiction, she had no idea how bad it was until it was too late.
That’s exactly how he wanted it. When they first met in January 2020, Carter warned her against reading anything online about him. She also didn’t want to dig into his past and believed his claims of sobriety. By the time Martin realized just how severe Carter's addiction was, she was already in too deep.
34. He Had A Strange Addiction
While Carter publicly claimed he’d been clean for five years, Martin confesses he was far from it. One of his biggest vices was huffing cleaning products. He tried to get clean but relapsed. His addiction reached the point where she begged stores not to sell him any cleaning products. Sadly, their relationship got even worse.
35. He Had A Complicated Relationship
In March 2020, Carter declared his love for Martin by tattooing her name on his forehead. But just weeks later, she found herself behind bars after allegedly getting physical with him. On Twitter, Carter even gave her the hashtag #FelonyMelanie.
Turns out, Martin told him she was pregnant right before the argument. But Carter insisted she was lying and they would never get back together. Spoiler alert: she was pregnant and they reconciled. Afterward, their relationship went in an…interesting direction.
36. He Joined A Scandalous Website
In the same month, Carter started an adult entertainment account with hefty prices. Hey, a guy’s gotta eat! On top of the subscription fee, Carter charged $50 to $125 for one naughty photo. Or, for $50, he rated fan photos. Despite the prices, many couldn’t resist. After all, he’d been the teenage crush of millions.
But they found out the hard way that Carter had screwed them over big time.
37. His Subscribers Weren’t Happy
Fans felt more scammed than satisfied. After paying for the photos, subscribers discovered they weren’t new. They’d paid for his already leaked photos. Carter soon began creating new content and even got Martin involved. They even live-streamed their bedroom activities.
Unfortunately, their content still received scathing reviews. This, like much of Carter’s later career, was another flop. Unfortunately, fate had another cruel twist in store for him.
38. He Received Tragic News
In June 2020, the heartbroken couple announced Martin had suffered a miscarriage. However, they remained optimistic and dove right back into babymaking. Eight months after this tragedy, the delighted parents announced on Instagram they were expecting their rainbow baby.
In the meantime, Carter made another interesting career move.
39. He Got Into Boxing
After the adult entertainment debacle, Aaron Carter took an even bigger hit—literally. In June 2021, he participated in a boxing match with Lamar Odom, fellow troubled star (and Khloe Kardashian’s ex). Lamar is also 186 cm (6’10) to Aaron’s 6’0 (183 cm)—and a professional basketball player on top of that. So it wasn’t really a match: It was a humiliation.
Lamar easily knocked Aaron out in the second round.
40. He Had A Son
On November 22, 2021, Martin and Carter rushed to the hospital. After an excruciating 13 hours in labor and an emergency c-section, Prince Lyric Carter came into the world. But Carter’s family was nowhere to be found.
At this point, his family was so estranged from him—they never got to meet Prince Lyric. Sadly, Carter’s chosen family was also doomed to a distressing end.
41. He Faced Accusations
It didn’t take long for the couple's baby bliss to wear off. Soon enough, the pair went back to their unhealthy ways.
In February 2022, Martin requested a restraining order. She accused him, with medical documentation, of breaking her ribs during a jealous and high rage. But this battle became even nastier after Carter filed his own restraining order.
42. He Turned The Tables
Carter insisted Martin was guilty of those accusations and more. Underneath the confusing he-said-she-said drama, it became clear that their relationship was beyond unhealthy and harmful. Understandably, people became extremely concerned for the well-being of Prince.
This environment was no place to raise a baby—and the courts agreed.
43. He Lost His Son
Both Carter and Martin lost custody of Prince thanks to Carter’s addiction, their domestic issues, and their respective mental health struggles. The courts awarded custody to Martin’s mother. Despite their issues, Carter and Martin were united in their heartbreak.
Both desperately tried to get their lives back on track to regain custody. For Carter, this included voluntarily checking into rehab and reaching out to an enemy.
44. He Extended An Olive Branch
After years of public feuds, restraining orders, and estrangement, Aaron Carter finally reached out to Nick. This time, he wanted to make peace, not drama. However, Nick was busy on tour with the Backstreet Boys. Still, there was a silver lining.
Nick planned to get in touch once he returned home from Europe. Tragically, neither brother knew it would be too late by then.
45. He Humiliated His Ex
Old habits are hard to break. Once again, Carter and Martin called it quits after another fiery argument. This time, it was extremely public and alarming. Carter uploaded a video where he literally chased Martin away from his home with her belongings. The footage was beyond disturbing.
At one point, Martin drops her suitcase and abandoned it to flee from her taunting ex. Unbelievably, this wasn’t her last straw.
46. His Relationship Wasn’t Over
Despite everything, Martin remained optimistic. She hoped he’d eventually cool down. In the past, they would’ve kissed and made up. This time, she admitted, "Towards the end, there was really not a lot of love because all I was trying to do was help and it was like me just focusing on him trying to help make us a family again".
However, in the end, there would be no closure for Martin.
47. His Passing Shocked Everyone
A week later, Carter’s housekeeper made the discovery of a lifetime. She found his lifeless body in the bathtub. While an autopsy was performed, officials decided to keep the results under wraps while they conducted a toxicology report. At this point, it seemed like Carter had lived a thousand lives. But he was only 34—devastatingly young.
48. His Brother Put On A Brave Face
Tragically, Aaron and Nick never had their long-awaited conversation. To make matters even worse, Nick was still on tour when Aaron passed. But the show must go on, so Nick went out and performed the next night.
He even shared a heartfelt tribute that captured the mixed emotions many felt about this troubled and talented man: “Even though my brother and I have had a complicated relationship, my love for him has never ever faded. I have always held on to the hope that he would somehow, someday want to walk a healthy path and eventually find the help that he so desperately needed. Sometimes we want to blame someone or something for a loss, but the truth is that addiction and mental illness is the real villain here".
49. He Was Still Exploited
You gotta hand it to the entertainment industry. Just when we think they couldn’t possibly sink any lower, they still find a way. Just two days after Carter’s unexpected passing, producers released his final album Blacklisted a month early. It came as a surprise to fans and his own management.
Turns out, his team hadn’t approved the release. The producers claimed they wanted to honor Carter, but his management had doubts. They believed it was beyond disrespectful and greedy. While this was sad, it wasn’t surprising.
After all, this was the same exploitative industry that chewed Carter up and spat him out by 21. On the other hand, the Carter family’s response surprised everyone.
50. He Had No Will
A $550,000 estate, no will, and a chaotic family: Aaron Carter’s unexpected passing had all the ingredients to create epic drama. Yet, his family shocked everyone in the best way. For once, everyone was on the same page. His mom insisted there would be no battle. Despite their many clashes, the family agreed that the estate belongs to Carter's son, Prince Lyric.