Then and Now: Elian Gonzalez and Other Top News Makers in 2000, 15 Years Later

Elian Gonzalez, a Bush presidential campaign and Putin's power plays were big.

— -- Much has changed since Elian Gonzalez first got on a small boat to flee Cuba for America fifteen years ago, including the chances for him to revisit relatives in Miami.

While the landscape of U.S.-Cuba relations have changed dramatically, some of the more surprising situations are ringing true again.

Here is a look at some of the biggest differences and striking similarities between some of today's news stories and their predecessors.

Elian Gonzalez Grows Up

One of the biggest news stories from 2000 was the custody battle over Elian Gonzalez, the then-6-year-old boy who was rescued floating off the coast of Florida after his mother died when a boat they were taking while fleeing Cuba capsized in late 1999. He stayed with his uncle in Miami and the international custody battle went on for months.

"I remember when the boat capsized, when we fell on the sea. I remember when I was put on the raft and my mom was covering me and I was raising my head, looking around ... and at some point I raised my head and I didn't see her again," Gonzalez told ABC News in his first interview in over a decade. "There was no-one else. I was alone in the middle of the sea ... and that's the last thing I remember."

Gonzalez, now an engaged 21-year-old, said that he would like to return to America some day soon “to give my love to the American people.” Since President Obama has begun normalizing relations with the Communist nation, travel to Cuba has eased significantly, so the prospect of a trip to Florida is more likely than it has ever been in his lifetime.

Bush Presidential Campaign Redux

Jeb Bush has moved from a supporting role to the spotlight over the past decade and a half, and while he has not officially announced his presidential bid, the second Bush son is certainly campaigning like a candidate.

When Jeb made a trip to "reintroduce" himself to New Hampshire voters in March, that was his first trip to the Granite state since his brother’s 2000 campaign and he recalled how they went door-to-door handing out oranges from Florida, where Jeb was governor at the time, asking people to vote for George.

Now, Jeb is the one taking center stage. He’s spoken around his expected candidacy and continues to make trips to key primary states while his affiliated fundraising groups keep bringing in donations.

Hillary Switches from a Senate Run to Her Second White House Bid

Bush isn’t the only politico returning to the fold this year. Hillary Clinton was fresh out of the White House when she started her bid to win New York’s Senate seat, and now she’s hoping to head back to D.C.

The former first lady and, most recently, former Secretary of State, launched her second presidential bid on April 12 and has been campaigning ever since.

She headed out on a road trip to Iowa immediately after the announcement without releasing an official schedule but now her campaign events are becoming (slightly) more press-friendly, though she still hasn't answered a question from the press in 27 days.

Ray Lewis

Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis made headlines off the field in early 2000 after he and two friends were charged with the stabbing deaths of two others after a Super Bowl party.

Lewis had the murder charges dismissed after making a deal in exchange for testimony and plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice, facing one year's probation and a fine by the NFL.

He retired from professional football following his team's victorious trip to the Super Bowl in 2013. He made several public appearances last month in his adopted hometown, urging calm amid the protests in Baltimore.

From the First Civil Unions to the Fight for National Same-Sex Marriages

The first civil unions for same-sex couples were signed into law in Vermont in 2000 and now same-sex marriage is facing a showdown in the country's highest court.

Now, 36 states and the District of Columbia legally allow same-sex marriage.

The case in front of the Supreme Court focuses on whether or not it is within the power of the individual states to determine whether it is constitutional for states to regulate same-sex couples' marriages.

Microsoft Management Shuffles

Bill Gates had been the day-to-day manager of the software company he founded 25 years earlier but announced that he would be handing off that duty to Steve Ballmer on Jan. 13, 2000.

Both men have since moved on from that role altogether, with Ballmer retiring from Microsoft in February of last year. Now he can regularly be seen on the sidelines at Los Angeles Clippers games after buying the team amid the scandal surrounding the racially charged comments made by the team's former owner late last summer.

Gates held on to his title of chairman of Microsoft until February of last year as well, but much of his focus in the past few years has been philanthropy and the foundation he created with his wife.

Putin Stays in Power, and in Shape

Vladimir Putin was known as the head of one of the successor agencies to the KGB when he started moving up the country's political ranks, eventually taking over after Boris Yeltsin stepped down as president on New Year's Eve in 1999.

After being inaugurated in March 2000, Putin's first time as president came with two successive terms that ended in 2008 but he returned again in 2012 and has been in office ever since.

One thing that hasn't changed is his love of uber-masculine sporting events, and ones with a fleet of cameras are even better. Just this weekend Putin, now 62, participated in an exhibition hockey game alongside former professional player where he allegedly scored eight of his team's 16 goals.