LeAnn Rimes Reconciles With Dad After Bitter Feud

ByABC News

April 29, 2005 — -- A country superstar celebrating her 10th year in show business, 22-year-old LeAnn Rimes has had a decade of hits. As with many child stars, Rimes had parents who worked hard to make her dreams a reality.

By helping to build her career, LeAnn's father, Wilbur Rimes, felt he was giving his daughter an opportunity he had always wanted. "To have your own child be able to get out and do what you couldn't and always wanted to, I just never really had the chance that she's had," he said.

"My Dad watches out for me. He'll help me with my singing, does the sounds. My mom does the hair and clothes," Rimes said.

Rimes' 1996 "Blue" -- released when she was just 13 years old -- was a smash hit, selling 6 million copies. But that level of success is demanding, and Rimes was working at an exhausting pace, performing some 500 shows over a 3 ½-year stretch.

A year after the release of "Blue," Rimes' parents divorced. It was a tumultuous time for the young teen.

And at 16, Rimes tried to take the reins of her career from her father. In 2000, she filed suit against her father, claiming her father and his partner pocketed some $7 million of her earnings and kept tens of thousands in cash hidden in a safe on her tour bus.

"I go by the saying 'Money's the root of all evil.' And I definitely believe that the love for money is the root of all evil, because it changes people," she said.

Wilbur Rimes filed a countersuit against his daughter, noting what he felt was LeAnn's egregious overspending.

"I was being called a spoiled brat by some people," Rimes said. "But, you know, people don't know me."

Amid the legal battles, Rimes fell in love with backup dancer Dean Sheremet. The two met when he was cast to dance during Rimes' performance when she hosted the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards.

The couple's whirlwind romance led to a fireside marriage proposal, but what Rimes wanted most was to have her estranged father at her wedding. The week before the ceremony, LeAnn tried to repair their relationship and settle the lawsuits.

"It was definitely tough. I was in lawyers' meetings until three or four days before our wedding. So it was stressful. It's like one of the worst moments. And then one of the best moments ... All in one week," she said.

Rimes learned at a young age the need to forgive and was able to break through the anger she held toward her father.

"There's so much more life ahead of me. To carry on a burden of hating someone. It's just not worth it," Rimes said. "I've never hated my dad. I just wanted a dad. I guess I just really disliked where he was in my life. I just wanted him to be my father."

The Rimes' family put the past behind them, and LeAnn told "20/20" that everybody attending the wedding had tears in their eyes as she and her father shared the traditional father-daughter dance.

Sheremet was equally moved by his bride's reconciliation with her father. "I couldn't stop crying the whole ceremony," he said.

Rimes and Sheremet now live in Nashville, and Rimes' newest CD, "This Woman," reflects both a joyful spouse's romantic fulfillment and a daughter's gratitude and love for her country roots.

Rimes said she learned a valuable lesson through her family feud. "When the child shows the leadership of forgiveness, then the parents have to follow at some point," she said. "So I think we all learned something from each other."

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