The saga of Nick and Aaron Carter is definitely a sad one, but it carries an important message: mental illness is no joke, abuse is no joke, and it’s important for people to seek help and support when they’re dealing with either. The timeline of their estranged relationship is pretty convoluted and includes restraining orders from Nick against Aaron, who he claims wanted to harm his pregnant wife and family.
The story also includes Aaron opening up about his older brother bullying him his entire life, his late sister abusing him when he was younger, a lot of troubling tweets and posts, and a whole lot more. It’s all very ugly, and it’s not how we want to remember the pop stars. At one point, the Backstreet Boys were the biggest band in the world, and Aaron was also a huge star.
Let’s go back to the happier times, and see how much Nick and Aaron Carter used to mean to each other in these 20 photos.
20 Nick Wishes Aaron Happy Birthday
This photo wasn’t taken too long ago– in 2017– after the Carters’ relationship had already been strained by Aaron getting a DUI in July of that year. Nick tweeted a happy birthday to his baby brother and sister, and Aaron re-tweeted saying he was “an Awesome person! I’m always in your corner.” Around the time of the DUI, Aaron blasted Nick’s tweets, thinking he was making it about him (Nick) by bringing it to light on a public forum.
19 Younger And Happier
It’s always nice to see siblings with their arms around the other’s shoulder, even if deep inside there is a hurt there that no one knows about. That seems to be what’s going on here, as the glamorous pop stars look quite happy to be next to each other, taking center stage at some award show. It’s too bad that the truth is always stranger than what we see.
18 Nick Carter: Vampire?
Long before the convoluted saga that has become the Carters’ life, we have a much happier look at Nick and Aaron Carter, at least in the public’s eye. They’ve always been good at maintaining a close relationship in front of viewers— it’s behind the scenes that all the shenanigans seems to take place. Still, we wonder what Nick is up to here, looking at his skinny brother’s arm like he’s about to bite it like a vampire.
17 Brotherly Love
Here’s another picture of brotherly love, with Nick looking cool and suave as he looks into the camera, and Aaron all happy and smiley. You would never think that the same teal-shirt-wearing Carter would issue a restraining order against his younger sibling just a few years later, alleging that Aaron hears voices in his head and wants to harm his family.
16 With Family
Here we see another happy picture of the boys holding up a couple of shirts, alongside their sister Leslie (far right) who sadly passed away, Angel (in the middle), and Jaime Feingold, who’s associated with Nick Carter. We’re not sure what the “Peace” shirts symbolize, other than perhaps family love, but it’s a good picture of the siblings when they were younger and happier.
15 The Truth Is Easy To Hide
When you’re popular and famous, the truth is easy to hide underneath that good looking exterior. While both brothers seem happy-ish, you can almost see a hint of the terror and horror that Aaron Carter is going through in his young eyes here– even though his story wouldn’t come out in full for many more years. Usually signs of abuse are there, but they can be hard to spot sometimes.
14 Blast From The Past
Here’s a bit of a blast from the past, where we see Nick Carter using his younger, much shorter brother as an armrest, as all older brothers are privileged to do. Aaron doesn’t seem to be enjoying it very much, but he definitely put up with a lot when his older brother was as famous as he was during the Backstreet Boys days.
13 Blast Waaay From The Past
If you want to bring it back even further than that, such as in the 1990s when the Backstreet Boys were on top of the world and everyone knew Nick Carter’s name, here’s a cute picture for you. Aaron Carter looks like little more than a baby here, with his hand in between the director’s clapperboard, and Nick ready to snap it shut. They both look pretty stoked here.
12 Ignite Pin-Up
Kicking it way back to the past, we have a picture here that’s called an Ignite Pin-Up, showcasing Nick and Aaron Carter sticking their tongues out at the cameras. With Nick’s arm around Aaron, it looks like there's some serious brotherly love. Not to mention their all-white getups and chain necklaces, and Nick’s iconic spiky hair that he was rocking for one period during the Backstreet Boys days.
11 Love In Aaron’s Eyes
It’s crazy to think, now that we’ve all heard the terrible stories and have to make sense of it all, that Aaron Carter once held such admiration for his older brother. As kids, they always seemed to be by each other’s sides. Nick seemed like the protective older brother that everyone would want, and Aaron was that goofy, smiley younger sibling that everyone adored. It all seemed so perfect…
10 They Might Be Related
Someone managed to snap this perfect picture of the two brothers back when Aaron was an acne-faced teen and his older brother looked like an absolute doofus— at least in this shot— but they still seem completely comfortable in each other’s company. You can tell that they’re related by their ridiculous facial expressions. Someone must’ve just told a really funny joke.
9 Identical Smiles
In this more recent picture from a red carpet event, we see both of the brothers turned to the camera and smiling at an apparent joke, and it’s almost uncanny how similar they look. Their stances, their faces, and those smiles are all practically identical and truly shows how much they take after one another— or at least how they used to.
8 Sister Angel Before The Restraining Order
This photo shows Aaron cozying up with his twin sister, Angel Conrad, in a picture that wasn’t taken too long ago. Unfortunately, Angel would eventually file a restraining order against her twin brother, claiming that Aaron had threatened to send people to harm her. It’s too bad that we can’t just all go back to these happier times, but it’s also important for the truth to come out.
7 The Whole Family
Here we see the siblings on July 11, 2006, as they arrived at the Style Network Party at the Summer TCA Tour. From left, we have Bobbie Jean Carter (a singer herself), Leslie Carter, Nick Carter, Angel Carter, and Aaron Carter. The premiere episode for Marriage Boot Camp: Family Edition also tried to rekindle the broken relationship between Aaron Carter and his family, to come “face-to-face with secrets that broke them; singer Aaron Carter and actor Corey Feldman seek to reconcile their childhoods stolen by fame,” according to Heavy.com.
6 The Truth Is Easier To See More Recently
In this picture from 2017, it’s much easier to see the hardships that the Carter family has caused both of the brothers. Nick looks 10 years older, and Aaron looks 20 years older, and the tattoos aren’t helping that look (not that they’re bad tattoos). This picture surfaced shortly after their father passed away at 65. Aaron tweeted that with Robert’s sad passing, “my heart is Completely shattered, I’m in shock and I loved my dad so much.”
5 Just Before The Estrangement Began
This picture shows the brothers looking a bit unfamiliar in each other’s arms, almost like they don’t recognize each other. And they probably don’t— they hadn’t seen each other for years at this point. Aaron was diagnosed with multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia, acute anxiety, and manic depression at the time, and this was after he started undergoing treatment.
4 A Couple Of Young Hippies
This is how everyone wants people to remember Nick and Aaron Carter: as a couple of lovable, young hippies. But that’s not the case anymore. They always had their arms around each other in the past, but that spell was broken by the very public feud and breakdown between their familial relationship that has transpired over the last few years, and escalated this year.
3 Aaron Happy With Ex Lina Valentina
For a while, it seemed like Aaron Carter might marry ex-girlfriend Lina Valentina. But earlier this year in August, Aaron filed a restraining order against her after an apparent domestic violence dispute with her as the suspect. Reportedly, she believed he was secretly seeing another woman. In the same chat where Aaron allegedly said he would harm sister Angel (and she was issued a restraining order against him), Aaron also said he had people who could hurt Lina.
2 Pop Sensations
Here are a couple of young bucks— Nick Carter at the height of his popularity with the Backstreet Boys, and Aaron Carter who would begin his skyrocket life of fame shortly after. He’s little more than a child here, but looks very confident with himself in his brother’s arms. It’s definitely bittersweet to think that they were once so close, and now so estranged.
1 Before Leslie Carter Passed Away
The Carters have been rife with mental illness, it seems, from the get-go, even though the truth is only now coming out. This image was taken shortly before the tragic passing of Leslie Carter, at the young age of 25, who overdosed and struggled with mental bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and depression. She left a 10-month-old daughter, Allysa Jane, and a husband, Mike Ashton, behind. Here, she looks happy with her brothers, back in 2006.
Sources: people.com, usmagazine.com, dailymail.co.uk, pinterest