After the terror attacks of 9/11, Rachel Uchitel "had something of a breakdown and felt very lost," leaving behind a career as a news producer in New York to work the door of a Las Vegas nightclub, glad-handing celebrities and closely protecting their privacy, her mother told ABC News.com.
But the combination of rumors of an extramarital relationship with one of those celebrities -- golf superstar Tiger Woods -- in the National Enquirer and Woods' one-car crash early Friday morning have made Uchitel something of a celebrity herself.
The alleged affair was denied by virtually everyone involved in the case. Woods put out a statement decrying what he called an "unfounded and malicious rumor," and Uchitel has said she had no relationship with the golfer and told the New York Post she was considering suing the Enquirer over its report.
Not a word of it is true," Uchitel told the Post. "It's the most ridiculous story. It's like they are asking me to comment if there are aliens on Earth."
Uchitel said Woods had been to the New York City club where she worked, and she did escort Woods and his group in and out, but that was the extent of their contact.
"I've always been the director of VIP services, that's my job -- to know these people, to have a relationship with them, to hang out with them. It doesn't mean I'm having sex with them or an affair with them. ... But Tiger and I are not friends. That's a whole different ballgame. I've only met him twice," Uchitel told the Post. "I have never spoken on the phone with Tiger Woods, or texted him, ever. ... I do not have sex with celebrities, and I have not had an affair with Tiger Woods."
Uchitel began working with celebrities in the clubs of Las Vegas following the death of her fiance in the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
"She lost her fiance on 9/11 and understandably had a very hard time," said Uchitel's mother, Susan, who spoke on the condition that she only be identified by her first name. "Her friends opened a nightclub in Las Vegas and invited her to join them, so she could get away. I think she went through what any other person who lost someone does: intense depression, grief and anger. She had something of a breakdown and felt very lost."
Uchitel, a 34-year-old club promoter in Las Vegas and New York, has denied rumors of an affair. She employed Gloria Allred, a California attorney famous for her high-profile clients. Allred had previously represented Paula Jones in her sexual harassment case against Bill Clinton; the family of Nicole Brown Simpson, the murdered wife of O.J. Sompson; and Amber Frey, the ex-girlfriend of accused murderer Scott Peterson.
On Sunday, Allred reportedly met Uchitel at Los Angeles International airport. The lawyer neither confirmed nor denied the affair, telling reporters only: "We're going to meet and plan the next step."
On Sept. 11, 2001, Uchitel was working as a producer for the Bloomberg financial news service. Her fiance, investment banker Andy O'Grady, was in the World Trade Center and is believed to have been killed when the second plane hit the South Tower.
Uchitel spent days looking for him, distributing fliers with his picture around lower Manhattan. Photos of her, hysterically crying, appeared in New York newspapers. Two years later, she told The New York Times she'd suffered a "massive breakdown."
"I couldn't get through the day," she told the paper in an interview.