Meet the Real-Life Loves of the Backstreet Boys

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When not touring the world, some of the pop idols are devoted husbands and fathers

<p>John Parra/Getty Images for iHeartRadio</p> The Backstreet Boys in 2022

John Parra/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

The Backstreet Boys in 2022

The Backstreet Boys have been making hearts skip a beat for decades. But while fans have been pining after Kevin Richardson, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, Howie Dorough and Nick Carter since they burst onto the music scene in the ’90s, all five of the pop idols have been married for years.

The women who are their fire, their one desire, have seen the Backstreet Boys through good times and bad, whether it’s Richardson and wife Kristin’s on-again, off-again courtship, McLean’s struggle with addiction or the troubling allegations leveled against Carter. (The youngest member of the group is currently being sued by multiple women for sexual assault, but has denied the accusations and is fighting them in court. His life and that of his late brother Aaron will be explored in the upcoming documentary Fallen Idols: Nick and Aaron Carter, which airs on Monday, May 27, and Tuesday, May 28, at 9 p.m. ET on ID.)

Here's everything you need to know about the real-life loves of the Backstreet Boys.

Kevin Richardson

<p>Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation</p> Kristin Kay Willits and Kevin Richardson with their sons in 2024

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Kristin Kay Willits and Kevin Richardson with their sons in 2024

While Kevin Richardson and wife Kristin have been married for nearly 25 years, their path to wedded bliss included a few detours. The couple met prior to the formation of the Backstreet Boys, while both were performing as characters at Walt Disney World in Orlando in 1992. “She walked into the cafeteria, and it was like someone turned a light on,” Kevin told PEOPLE in 1999.

But their burgeoning careers — Kristin, an actor and dancer, has performed with the Radio City Rockettes and toured with Cher — frequently kept them apart. They broke up and reunited more than once before Kevin popped the question in December 1999. The couple married the following summer.

Kevin and Kristin have spoken openly about their fertility issues. After welcoming their oldest son Mason in 2007, the couple struggled to have a second child. But in 2013, their youngest, Maxwell, finally arrived, and Kristin detailed their journey toward expanding their family in the 2015 documentary Pushing Motherhood.

Both Kevin and Kristin frequently share candid family photos on Instagram, including a pic with their kids at the 2024 Super Bowl and an adorable set of photo booth shots while waiting for a delayed flight.

Brian Littrell

<p>Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ACM</p> Brian Littrell, son Baylee and wife Leighanne in 2019

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for ACM

Brian Littrell, son Baylee and wife Leighanne in 2019

Even if “As Long as You Love Me” weren’t one of the Backstreet Boys’ biggest hits, it would certainly have a special place in singer Brian Littrell’s heart: he met wife Leighanne, than an actress and model, on the set of the video for the single in 1997. The couple married in 2000.

“One of the things I loved about him when we first met was if we ever had a problem, he had this willingness to do better for the relationship,” Leighanne told PEOPLE of her husband as they marked their 20th anniversary in 2020.

"Nothing is ever peachy keen and perfect all the time, but being able to grow together instead of growing apart is the big thing,” Brian said of the couple’s longevity.

Brian and Leighanne share a son, 21-year-old Baylee, who is making his own way as a country music artist, releasing two albums since 2019.

AJ McLean

<p>Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Rookie USA</p> AJ McLean, wife Rochelle and their family in 2023

Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Rookie USA

AJ McLean, wife Rochelle and their family in 2023

Early this year, AJ McLean and wife Rochelle announced that they were ending their 12-year marriage.

“As you all know we have been separated for over a year now,” the couple, who previously announced their separation in March 2023, wrote in a post on AJ’s Instagram on Jan. 1. "While we have hoped for reconciliation we have decided to officially end our marriage. It is with deep love and respect that we have made this decision."

The couple met in 2008 while Rochelle, who has worked as a makeup artist and hairstylist, was a waitress, and married three years later in December 2011. Rochelle has appeared in music videos for AJ’s solo track “Boy and a Man” and for the Backstreet Boys’ “No Place.”

In 2020, AJ, who is now in recovery, described how Rochelle had stuck by him through the worst of his struggles with drugs and alcohol. "If I were her, I would have left, but she's always been able to see through the BS to who I really am,” he told PEOPLE.

AJ and Rochelle have two daughters, Elliott, born in 2012, and Lyric, born in 2017.

The couple seem to continue to be on friendly terms, despite their separation, appearing together alongside their young daughters last November at a special screening of Trolls: Band Together. Backstreet Boys fans may even have Rochelle to thank for whatever comes next for the band. Last November, AJ teased something “very big” in 2025, crediting Rochelle for the idea.

Howie Dorough

<p>Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Churchill Downs</p> Howie Dorough and wife Leigh in 2019

Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Churchill Downs

Howie Dorough and wife Leigh in 2019

Howie Dorough’s wife Leigh has had many lives. When the couple met in 2000, Leigh was the Backstreet Boys’ webmaster, having previously worked as a TV and film executive and as a real estate broker. In 2022, she co-founded luxury handbag line ESLLA — short for Ethically Sustainable Luxury Leather Alternatives.

The couple dated for seven years before marrying in 2007, influencing each other’s musical tastes along the way. “She opened my mind to music I hadn’t listened to, like Ben Harper and Dave Matthews,” Howie told ET in 2017. “She took me to Primus and exposed me to a totally different realm of music, and I introduced her to more pop/R&B, like Maxwell and Sade.” And, of course, the Backstreet Boys.

In 2009, Howie and Leigh welcomed their first son, James, with Holden following in 2013.

Nick Carter

<p>Denise Truscello/WireImage</p> Nick Carter with wife Lauren in 2023

Denise Truscello/WireImage

Nick Carter with wife Lauren in 2023

Nick Carter was introduced to wife Lauren, an actress and fitness trainer, by his sister Angel and brother Aaron in 2008. Nick proposed in 2013, and the couple’s engagement and 2014 wedding were documented on the VH1 reality series I Heart Nick Carter.

Nick and Lauren have also appeared together in the 2016 SyFy movie Dead 7, written by Nick, and in several of the singer’s solo music videos. Last year, Lauren launched Crypto Café, an online platform built around demystifying cryptocurrency.

In 2016, the couple welcomed their oldest son Odin Reign. After experiencing multiple miscarriages, Lauren gave birth to daughters Saoirse Reign in 2019 and Pearl in 2021.

Since 2017, three women have accused Nick Carter of sexual assault — two when they were under 18 years old. All three accusers have sued the singer for sexual battery. Carter has denied the allegation and is currently fighting them in court. Lauren has not commented on the allegations against her husband.

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