From promising 21-year-old country star to tortured addict and mother of two little boys, Mindy McCready's life was lived in the spotlight of public adulation and criticism. The singer died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on February 17, 2013. She leaves behind a devastated family that tried so hard to help her and two beautiful children that will forever wonder, "Why?" 

Sadly, a satisfying explanation for Mindy McCready's actions will never be heard. In 1996, the singer from Fort Meyers, Fla. held the country music world in the palm of her hand with four straight hits from a double-Platinum album. Her relationship with her record label soon grew contentious, and sales of her next two albums slumped. Soon, her personal life would begin to fall deep into a black hole of drugs, theft and lies. One hoped a 2005 hospitalization at the hands of boyfriend Billy McKnight would be rock bottom -- an act that allowed her to face death and realize she still had plenty to live for.

Instead, she reconciled with McKnight and her troubles continued. Three suicide attempts and multiple arrests later, McCready was again on the run from authorities who wanted her to bring Zander back to Florida. That was November 2011. Five months later, her life would reach one final high before a slow descent that led to suicide in early 2013. What lesson can we learn? Maybe one exists. The reality is McCready's is a sad, sad story told through the eyes of news and tabloid cameras.

Life and Death of Mindy McCready -- the Timeline

Nov. 30, 1975 - Born Malinda Gayle McCready to Tim McCready and Gayle Inge in Ft. Meyers, Fla.

Mindy McCready Ten Thousand Angels
BNA Records

Early 1996 - Releases debut single 'Ten Thousand Angels.' An album of the same name would go on to sell over two million copies. Suddenly, the young singer is being compared to George Strait in terms of potential star power.

September 1996 - Her follow-up single 'Guys Do It All the Time' becomes her first and only No. 1 hit.

Sept. 9 1997 - McCready and actor Dean Cain, who was known for his role as Superman in 'Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,' become engaged. They had been

Mindy McCready Dean Cain
Jeff Kravitz, Getty Images

dating for three years at the time, and his influence on McCready irritated her label executives. By this time, McCready was becoming known for being tardy and difficult to work with.

April 2000 - After two follow-up albums on BNA Records and slumping sales, McCready signs with Capitol Nashville.

March 2002 - Releases her self-titled Capitol Records debut. 'Mindy McCready' features three singles, the most successful being 'Scream,' which peaked inside the Top 50. She wouldn't release another album for eight years, and more rumors of her lack of professionalism begin to circulate.

November 2004 - Pleads guilty to using a fake prescription to obtain OxyContin.

May 2005 - Charged with drunk driving.

Mindy McCready Mug Shot

May 2005 - Mindy McCready is hospitalized and Billy McKnight is arrested and charged with attempted murder after he breaks into her home and strangles her. During an interview on Oprah later that year, the singer says she still loves McKnight, but recalls "gurgling on blood" and the feeling of not being able to breathe. She would become pregnant with McKnight's son two months later.

July 2005 - Charged with hindering prosecution and unlawful use of transportation after she and a conman allegedly tried to obtain two luxury boats.

July 2005 - McCready tries to commit suicide for the first time and is hospitalized after a drug overdose.

Sept. 23, 2005 - Attempts suicide a second time and overdoses on anti-depressants. She would later tell Oprah that both tries were an attempt to get McKnight to admit what he did was wrong.

March 25, 2006- McCready gives birth to Zander. The father is Billy McKnight.

Mindy McCready Baby
Brad Barket, Getty Images

July 2007 - McCready is arrested after an altercation with her mother. They had an argument that turned physical, with both accusing the other of assault. Eventually, police decided to arrest McCready, but she resisted, forcing the officer to take her to the ground to restrain her. She was eventually pepper sprayed.

April 2008 - McCready tells 'Inside Edition' that she and MLB pitcher Roger Clemens began a relationship when she was just 16 years old. It didn't turn sexual until later, but the romance lasted for over a decade. She said she broke it off when Clemens wouldn't marry her. The baseball player denied having an affair with McCready, but didn't elaborate on the extent of their relationship. After her death in 2013, he released a statement saying, "The few times that I had met her and her manager/agent they were extremely nice."

December 2008 - McCready attempts suicide once more, this time cutting her wrists while taking several pills. Her brother Timothy McCready finds her in her bedroom and calls 911. They were living together at the time.

April 2009 - Singer appears on a Billy McKnight song called 'Sweeter.' It's met with poor reviews and sincere concern for her well-being.

January 2010 - McCready appears on the third season of VH1's 'Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew.' She would commit to go to Al-Anon, but by February 2013, she and two other castmates from that season would be dead.

March 2010 - McCready releases her final album, 'I'm Still Here.' It receives lukewarm reviews and does not produce a hit, but indicates a future in music for the troubled singer.

Mindy McCready David Wilson

November 30, 2011 - McCready and Zander go missing. The singer took the child from her parents' house, despite not having legal custody, and traveled to Heber Springs, Ark. An emergency order is issued to force the singer to return to Florida with the boy.

November 30, 2011 - It's revealed that McCready is pregnant with twins. This later turns out to be incorrect. She was only pregnant with one child.

Dec. 3, 2011 - McCready is found hiding in the closet at David Wilson's house in Arkansas. Zander is taken by the state Division of Children and Family Services and arrangements are made to return him to McCready's parents, who are his legal guardians.

Dec. 5, 2011 - Judge Lee W. Harrod rules that McCready could retain custody of Zander. In the next few days she would claim Zander was beaten by Gayle Inge, alleging the boy had scars on his body. Also, she said her mother's religious beliefs are too extreme: "My mother believes she is a prophet sent from God."

April 9, 2012 - McCready gives birth to another son, Zayne. The father is David Wilson. The singer's representative says earlier reports that she was pregnant with twins were a result of a misread sonogram.

Jan. 13, 2013 - David Wilson is found dead outside of his home. Initial reports suggest it was suicide, but local law enforcement are careful not to call it a self-inflicted gunshot wound, casting suspicion on McCready, who was home at the time. She would later say she had nothing to do with Wilson's death.

Feb. 6, 2013 - McCready is committed to a treatment center and her children are taken from her. Just days earlier, McKnight had filed for full custody of Zander and urged a judge to have the singer submitted for a mental health and drug evaluation. McCready was released a short time later, which was thought to be a sign that she was not abusing drugs or alcohol to cope with Wilson's death.

Feb. 17, 2013 - Police respond to reports of gunfire at McCready's home in Heber Springs, Ark. When they arrive at 3:58PM, they find the singer dead on the front porch from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. Mindy McCready was 37 years old.

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