Britney Spears and fiancé Sam Ashagri's awkward first meeting, cute nickname and prenup pleas
The world watched for years as Britney Spears' nightmarish conservatorship battle rumbled on.
In June 2021, the singer pleaded to end the control her father Jamie Spears has had over her finances since 2008.
Britney's mysterious and cryptic Instagram posts, which may not have actually been posted by her, had done nothing to explain the situation or how the star really felt about her father controlling every aspect of her life.
But Britney's impassioned court testimony where she begged for her life back confirmed to many of her fans that she was the same level-headed and independent woman they had known back in the 2000s.
After the horrors she has been through, Britney fans are united in one thing - they all desperately want her to find the happiness she deserves.
So they were delighted when Brit announced she had become engaged to her boyfriend of five years, Sam Asghari.
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Britney, 39, and Sam, 27, met in 2016 when he starred in the sultry music video for her song Slumber Party.
Sam, who was born in Tehran, Iran, is a personal trainer who runs his own company, Asghari Fitness.
He and his father had emigrated to the US when he was 12, an upheaval that was not easy on Sam.
"I had to leave my friends and family who I was very close with, and I knew I was moving away and never coming back," he told Men's Health.
He would join his school's football team and join the police academy, before being encouraged by one of his three sisters to try modelling.
She took him along to an audition and he landed his first runway show when he was 21, as well as starring in a Superbowl advert for Toyota Prius and the music video for Work From Home by Fifth Harmony.
This led to him being cast for the Slumber Party video, and he admitted he got "butterflies" when he met Britney.
"She said, 'Hi, I'm Britney,' and I said, 'I'm sorry. What's your name again?'" he said. "I tried to be funny. I don't think anybody got it."
The pair swapped numbers before heading out on their first date, a sushi dinner - and the rest was history.
Sam revealed he and Britney would often work out together in her home gym, and said it helped "take their minds off everything else".
While they kept their romance private, they posted plenty of videos of their workout routine.
"The exercises, I come up with them, but the videos are because of my better half. She's the video director," Sam gushed to Men's Health.
"It's a very fun thing, and I look back at them and smile."
Britney shares few photos with Sam on social media, but she posted a beaming snap on New Year's Eve as they rang in 2017 together.
The following March, Britney was seen by Sam's side in the audience as one of his sisters walked in an LA fashion show.
On Sam's birthday that month, Britney posted a photo of them together on a stunning hike through the LA hills, and in June it was revealed Sam had whisked Britney to Japan.
Britney and Sam also headed to Disneyland together with her two sons Sean Preston and Jayden James Federline, who she shares with ex-husband Kevin Federline, proving Sam's credentials as a doting stepfather.
Brit shared a picture with Sam where she gushed she was "so in love" with him.
It is rare the couple make a public appearance together, but in July 2019 they both attended the premiere for Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood and looked loved up on the red carpet.
When the pandemic hit, the couple flew to Hawaii for Brit's birthday, and she posted a photo with Sam captioned: "Felt like a little trip to paradise for an early birthday celebration."
"Sam is very good to Britney and she's crazy about him," an insider told E! News.
"She loves when they get to travel together and take a romantic vacation... They work out together and both are very into staying fit and taking care of their bodies.
"They love watching movies together and hanging out at home. But Britney also loves going out to dinner, especially for sushi."
When the documentary Framing Britney Spears was released in February, leading to intensified public scrutiny over Britney's legal situation, Sam released a statement supporting her.
"I have always wanted nothing but the best for my better half, and will continue to support her following her dreams and creating the future she wants and deserves," he said.
"I am thankful for all of the love and support she is receiving from her fans all over the world, and I am looking forward to a normal, amazing future together."
In April the pair attended Sam's friend's wedding, with a source claiming to E! that Britney's movements are "restricted" in part because of her father but also because of the pandemic.
"She finally had an opportunity to get out and she took it," said the source.
In June came Britney's bombshell testimony in court, where she claimed she was forced to use contraception against her will and called for her father Jamie to be jailed.
"My dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship, including my management … they should be in jail," she said.
"I’ve told the world I’m happy and OK. I lied. I am not happy, I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, it’s insane. And I’m depressed."
She continued: "Ma’am, I am not here to be anyone’s slave. I just want my life back. It's enough."
Speaking about her desire to marry Sam and have children together, she said: "I want to be able to get married and have a baby.
"I have an IUD inside of myself so that I don’t get pregnant, but [my team doesn’t] want me to have any more children."
She concluded: "All I want is to own my money and for this to end and for my boyfriend to be able to drive me in his f*****g car."
In support, Sam posted a selfie shortly afterwards, where he appeared to be wearing a t-shirt with #FreeBritney emblazoned on it, and he captioned it with a lion emoji, seemingly referencing his nickname for Britney - his "lioness".
In August, Britney was appointed a new attorney, Mathew Rosengart, who filed a petition to remove Jamie and appealed for the court to replace him with a professional accountant.
And on September 8, Jamie filed to end his daughter's conservatorship, having been in control of the singer's $60 million estate for more than 13 years.
He filed the petition to Los Angeles Superior Court which states that his daughter "is entitled to have this Court now seriously consider whether this conservatorship is no longer required".
NBC reports that the filing continues to say that the singer's circumstances have changed "to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist".
Rosengart called the move a "massive legal victory for Britney Spears, as well as vindication" in a statement to US Weekly.
Following this move, it was hinted last week that Sam had plans to propose to Britney, with a source revealing to E! : "Engagement has always been in the cards for Sam and Britney, without question.
"The closer she gets to freedom, the closer she is to seeing all of her dreams become an actual reality.
"Marrying Sam is high on that list and loving him the way she wants, how she wants, on her own terms."
Days later, Britney announced her engagement with a sweet video showing off her ring to her 33.9 million Instagram followers, alongside the caption: "I can’t f****** believe it," with a host of ring emojis.
"Look at that, do you like it?" asked Sam, as Britney posed with the ring and planted a big kiss on Sam's cheek.
"Yes!" replied the overjoyed singer.
But while her fans flooded to congratulate her, some were apprehensive that the proposal came days after Jamie filed to end the conservatorship.
This included Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, 51, who commented: "Make him sign a prenup."
Another of Brit's followers agreed: "CONGRATS!!!!!!! GET A PRE NUP! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!!"
"Still don’t know about the dude Sam so protect your assets Britney! Make sure to get that prenup girl!" added a third.
But others pointed out if it was true that Britney could not get married under the conservatorship, it makes perfect sense that Sam would wait until it looked like it was ending before he popped the question.
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