They were quite simply the most infamous moments of the year — Chris Brown’s assault on then-girlfriend Rihanna, Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s VMA acceptance speech and the lurid details of Tiger Woods’ adultery. Each incident made us look at the stars involved a little differently.
Chris Brown was the rising Prince of Pop, a gifted singer and dancer with an easy charm about him and a childlike eagerness to please. His fall from grace was startling, as word spread he assaulted Rihanna on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards. Fans were split in the aftermath, debating who was at fault — but once a police photo of Rihanna taken after Brown punched and bit her was posted on TMZ.com, opinions changed.
The sweet-faced “Forever” crooner not only crossed the line, he grossly trampled over it. His actions confounded and confused fans.
Brown and Rihanna’s relationship went on a topsy-turvy trip in the wake of the incident. There was word they would be collaborating on a song together about the ordeal, which later proved to be false. The couple reunited briefly in Miami in an attempt to mend their relationship, but the pressure was too much — from fans, from family and, most importantly, from each other.
Brown avoided jail time, but he wasn’t let off the hook. The entertainer was forced to submit to counseling, community labor service and a five-year probation period, which coincides with a judge-imposed mandate to stay away from Rihanna at all costs.
He’s done all he can to rehabilitate his image, from interviews with reporters to launching charitable endeavors to engaging in a fan-appreciation tour. So far Brown’s been able to win back some of the trust he lost from the public, though the process has been arduous and perhaps slower than he expected.
The same can’t be said for Kanye West.
He’s endured a trying time in his life with the death of his mother and the fallout from his broken engagement. Both experiences inspired his last album, 808s & Heartbreak, where West was more muted, choosing to sing through Auto-Tune more than rap on the project.
‘Ye has often been revered for his talent, but through his heartache he became embraced by fans — Jay-Z’s little brother was growing up. But a streak of immaturity placed Kanye in the public’s dog house.
The scene was the 2009 Video Music Awards and Taylor Swift had just won Best Female Video. The country superstar took to the stage and before she had the chance to say much, West swooped. He grabbed her microphone as he protested her win.
“Yo, Taylor, I’mma let you finish,” he began, words that would be parodied for months after.
Pink was not happy, the audience booed him, Beyoncé was shocked, and even President Barack Obama eventually weighed in, calling his fellow Chicagoan a “jackass.”
Kanye apologized profusely in the aftermath — to Taylor personally and then again later on Jay Leno’s talk show. He’s since retreated from the limelight, saying he still needs time to deal with his emotions in the wake of his mother’s death.
If only Tiger Woods could get away.
He has, of course — since he was involved in a minor car accident, the famed golfer has been in hiding. But his name, image and mistresses have been plastered all over the news.
The golfing champion was a marketing jackpot, with a winning pedigree on the links and an inspiring backstory: mixed-heritage California kid makes good, marries a Swedish model and lives happily ever after.
That is until texts, voice mails and e-mail messages to and from various women made their way into the tabloids and gossip rags. Suddenly the squeaky-clean image Woods had projected fell apart.
Current reports suggest that Woods and his wife are headed for divorce, attempting to reconcile, moving overseas and more — no one really knows the truth yet. But amid the litany of women that the golfer allegedly bedded, Tiger continues to keep quiet.
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