Hilary Duff is mourning the death of her ex-boyfriend, Aaron Carter, who she dated when both were teen stars.
The "I Want Candy" singer, brother of Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter, was found dead at 34 in his home in Lancaster, Calif. Nov. 5. The cause of the former child star's death has not been revealed.
"For Aaron- I'm deeply sorry that life was so hard for you and that you had to struggle in-front of the whole world," Hilary, 35, wrote on Instagram later that day. "You had a charm that was absolutely effervescent...boy did my teenage self love you deeply. Sending love to your family at this time. Rest easy."
Aaron and Hilary dated on and off for almost three years, starting in 2000 when both were 13. In the latter year, he guest-starred on her Disney Channel series, Lizzie McGuire. The plot: Lizzie and her pals set off on a mission to meet the singer, who is shooting his Christmas music video in their town, and she and Aaron end up kissing under a piece of mistletoe as his ballad "Girl You Shine" plays.
Aaron and Hilary split amid rumors that he had cheated on her with then-fellow Disney star Lindsay Lohan. "I started dating Hilary on my 13th birthday," Carter recalled on The Big Idea With Donny Deutsch in 2005. "I was dating her for like a year and a half, and then I just got a little bored, so I went and started getting to know Lindsay, dating Lindsay. Then I didn't want to do that anymore, so I got back with Hilary."
According to People, Aaron and the Mean Girls actress dated between January 2002 and April 2003. That year, Lindsay told the magazine, "Aaron and I were friends. That's my past. It was, like, a few months ago, you know. He's a cool guy. We're friends. Hilary is a cute girl. I wish her the best."
Aaron told Donny Deutch that Hilary "really got her heart broken from me and I'm sorry for that." And according to the singer, the actress was the one to ultimately pull the plug on their romance. Reflecting on his relationship history on the No Jumper podcast on Nov. 2, his final interview before his death, he said, "The only person who broke up with me was Hilary."
Aaron appeared to harbor feelings for Hilary long after their split. In March 2014, two months after the How I Met Your Father star announced her breakup from first husband Mike Comrie, Aaron tweeted a photo of her and wrote, "Don't be that stupid douche that loses the love of your life forever.. Like me..."
He added, "I'll spend the rest of my life trying to better myself to get back to her. I don't care what ANY of you think."
The following October, Hilary was asked on Watch What Happens Live about Aaron "declaring his love" for her. "It's...ugh! I don't know," she responded. "I don't know what to say about it! It was so many years ago. I literally haven't seen him in...so, it's uncomfortable."
Recalling their teen romance, Hilary added that Aaron "was very sweet...when I was 13."
In December 2014, Aaron shared on Instagram a photo of himself watching himself and Hilary on his episode of Lizzie McGuire. "Merry Christmas Lizzie McGuire. #IWantCandy #AaronCarter #Flashback," he wrote in his post, adding, "I never actually watched this before."
In 2015, Hilary was asked again about her thoughts on her ex's social media posts about her. "Him reaching out through social media? It's ridiculous!" she told Cosmopolitan. "But then people do it all the time."