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Britney’s ups and downs

By Deborah Netburn, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

1981: On Dec. 2, Britney Jean Spears is born in the small town of Kentwood, La., to a former schoolteacher mom and a building contractor dad.

1993: Young Brit, already an accomplished gymnast, joins the cast of “The New Mickey Mouse Club” on Disney along with Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell, Christina Aguilera and Ryan Gosling(Disney Channel)
1996: At 15, Spears moves to New York and begins auditioning for pop bands and recording demo tapes, which eventually lands her a deal with Jive Records.

1998 : Spears’ first single "...Baby One More Time” is released accompanied by the iconic video featuring the singer in braids, a short schoolgirl kilt and a midriff-baring shirt dancing suggestively in a school hallway. The song (and video) become an international sensation. She begins dating ‘NSYNC dreamboat Justin Timberlake.  (Larry Busacca)
1999: Spears, 17, releases her first album and it debuts at No. 1. In the spring of that year, she is featured on the cover of Rolling Stone and the busty photo launches rumors that the singer had breast implants. A few months later, she kicks off her first headlining tour. She wins four Billboard Music Awards that year but loses the Grammy for best new artist in February of 2000 to teen rival Christina Aguilera.  (Lori Shepler / LAT)
2000: Spears releases her second album, "“Oops’…I Did It Again."” The album sells more than 1 million units in the first week. At the MTV music awards that year, she makes headlines by donning a nude-colored, crystal-adorned outfit.

2001: Spears ups the spectacle ante at the MTV music awards by performing “I’'m a Slave 4 U” with an albino python. (PETA is predictably outraged.) She also releases her third album, “Britney"” which debuts at No. 1 but does not sell as well as her first two albums.  (Suzanne Plunkett / AP)
2002: Spears stars in her first feature film, “Crossroads” and breaks up with Timberlake.  (Richard Foreman)
2003: After a year of lying low, Spears creates a sensation at the MTV music awards (yet again) by sharing the stage and an open-mouthed kiss with Madonna. Her fourth album, “In the Zone,” is released along with singles such as “Toxic.” (Scott Gries / Getty Images)
2004: The first hint of an unruly Spears emerges when the star marries her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander in a joke wedding in Las Vegas. The marriage is promptly annulled after less than three days. Later that year, her fourth world tour is canceled midway through when the singer injures her knee. The injury does not stop the singer, now 22 years old, from marrying Kevin Federline. At the time, Federline’s former girlfriend was pregnant with their second child. (Eric Jamison / Associated Press)
2005: UPN airs “Britney and Kevin: Chaotic,” a poorly made reality show consisting mostly of home videos of the singer and her new hubby acting dumb. The critics hate it and the ratings are not as high as expected. That same year she gives birth to Sean Preston Federline. (UPN)
2006: Britney’s ability as a mother is questioned when she is photographed driving with baby Sean on her lap. She also almost drops the baby while on a trip to New York. A plump, pregnant Spears discusses the hardship of being in the public eye during a teary interview with Matt Lauer. The interview is panned.  (NBC News)
Nov. 6, 2006: Britney files for divorce from Kevin Federline. Hopeful Spears fans claim this is Step 1 in the singer’s comeback.

December 2006: Now free of Federline, Britney is frequently photographed hitting the town with Paris Hilton, and gossip monger Perez Hilton insinuates the two superstars may be lovers. But the pop star can’t handle the heiress’ pace: She collapses on New Year’s Eve.  (Jason Szenes / EPA)
February 2007: After a month of manic partying — dancing on tables, getting dirty with pole dancers, allowing her lady parts to be photographed by the paparazzi and going in and out of rehab, Britney shocks the world by shaving her head at a salon in Tarzana because, she claimed at the time, her extensions were giving her a headache. The general public grows concerned for her welfare, and she finally enters, and stays, in rehab.

March 2007: Britney is released from rehab and her managers say she is fully recovered. (AFP / Getty Images)
DOWN September 2007: The singer embarks on a series of bad decisions that includes agreeing to perform at the MTV Video Music Awards, not showing up for rehearsal, deciding to wear a sparkly bikini despite not being in (pop star) bikini shape and displaying lackluster dance moves -- all of which results in a media maelstrom of bad publicity. (Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
DOWN October 2007: Spears loses custody of her children, which she had formerly split with Federline 50-50. She is later granted visitation rights, but only with a supervisor in tow. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
UP October 2007: Despite not doing any advance promotion for her latest album except for a sleepy radio interview with Ryan Seacrest the day it came out, “Blackout” hits stores Oct. 30 and immediately goes to the top of the charts. The critics are (unexpectedly) generally kind. (Associated Press)
DOWN Nov.-Dec. 2007: Spears’ entourage continues to disassemble and she alienates everyone around her with bizarre behavior and the media frenzy that she seems to encourage by continually driving around the city. She is reportedly banned from the Four Seasons Hotel in consideration of other guests. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
ROCK BOTTOM? Jan. 3, 2008: After locking herself and son Sean Preston in a bathroom for three hours rather than handing him over to Federline’s bodyguards who had come to retrieve him, Spears finally agrees to leave her house. She is immediately involuntarily hospitalized by police for “her own welfare” and is sent to Cedars-Sinai. (Associated Press)