For the past year-and-a-half, LeAnn Rimes has been a walking bull's eye. The country music star has been the target of the tabloids, called a "home wrecker" and a "stalker" over her affair with a married man. But the multi-Grammy award-winning singer says the real story is much deeper and more complicated than it's been portrayed.
"That's just not me. What happened is not who I am, period. But I do know how much I love him. So I've always said I don't live my life with regret. I can't."
Rimes and Cibrian met on the set of their made-for-TV movie, "Northern Lights," last year. The movie received more publicity for its off-screen drama than its on-screen plot, when rumors spread that Rimes, who was then married to dancer Dean Sheremet, was having an affair with Cibrian, who was also married and had two children with model Brandi Glanville.
"It happens every day to so many people. And I if I take away my album sales, my words, and you have just another couple. You had two couples whose marriages didn't work who really stumbled upon each other and fell in love," Rimes said. "I can't change [critics'] minds. Nothing I'm going to say is going to change it. I do know that and I have accepted that."
"The truth is that we're human beings. ... We make mistakes and we learn from them, but we're human. We fell in love," Cibrian said. "We're talking about something that's over a year, year and-a-half old, really and we're still together and we're madly in love. And I think people are finally seeing that, but it doesn't mean that people will accept it or the tabloids will stop trying to print lies and try to tear us apart or tear us down."
"We're really happy in what we feel privately," Rimes added. "We hope [that] one day, I think people will feel publicly."
Rimes burst on the music scene in the mid-90s. By 14, she had already made music history, becoming not only the youngest artist to be nominated for an Academy of Country Music Award, but also the first country singer to win a Grammy for Best New Artist, in 1996.
With a bright future ahead, there was no time for a childhood. A non-stop schedule of shows and recording dates would gradually wear her down. She also developed a severe skin disorder that covered much of her body and would take years to control.
CLICK HERE to see photos of LeAnn Rimes growing up.
"It was very discouraging because nothing really worked and I felt like, you know, kids would look at me strange," she recalled. "It was oddly enough, all of the sudden, then I had to be in the public eye in front of millions of people, you know, at thirteen."
Rimes said her grueling schedule at times made her question her passion for music.
"I did 500 shows in three-and-a-half years ... I was doing like two shows a day at times, [from] the time I was thirteen [until] sixteen and-a-half, and I was like 'I'm done,'" she said.