Talk about a fast track: At an age (16) when most would-be musicians are thinking about starting a band, Aaron Carter was releasing a "greatest hits" album.
By that time, the Tampa native -- younger brother of Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys -- had already put out three studio albums. The garage band? That was when he was seven, and he was opening for his brother's group at 10.
Carter, who once told an interviewer that he felt he was pushed into the limelight too early, has grown up under a media microscope. His legal problems (his parents sued his ex-manager, he was sued by a former record label, Trans Continental), his dating life (Lindsay Lohan, Hilary Duff), his parents' divorce and his legal petition for emancipation from his mother in 2003 have all been splashed all over the supermarket tabloids.
Born Dec. 7, 1987, Carter has a twin sister, Angel, who is currently a model. His parents ran a nursing home.
His meteoric rise to fame was helped, quite naturally, by his already famous brother. He was signed to his first recording contract after his appearance at that 1997 Backstreet boys concert, and his first album went gold later that year. He is the youngest artist ever to produce four consecutive top 10 hits.
Along the way, Carter has proved adept and versatile at tapping into the prevailing pop culture. His music has ranged from hip hop to rap to ballads. He has contributed to the soundtrack of kid-oriented movies like "Pokemon," "Rugrats in Paris" and "Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius."
It doesn't hurt his popularity with female fans that he is also an excellent athlete, riding dirt bikes competitively, performing on a Hollywood-based celebrity basketball team and frequently flinging himself into backflips or cartwheels onstage. Although slight, he has become fit and wiry through weight training.
In 2005, five of the Carter siblings - Aaron, Nick, B.J., Leslie and Angel - participated in a reality show, "House of Carters." that lasted one season. It was around long enough, however, to be lampooned on "Saturday Night Live," always a sign of pop cachet.
After separating himself from his mother and living for a time with his father, Aaron now looks at Nick as his mentor.
"The hardest thing about being famous," Aaron has said, "is being away from family."
Midway through the "House of Carters" run, Aaron was charged with DUI and misdemeanor marijuana possession in Texas.
He is among the field for the next edition of "Dancing with the Stars," and (perhaps based on his onstage moves) has been established as a 3-1 favorite.
His primary social cause is the preservation of the Everglades.