Nick Carter said on Sunday that he would miss his brother “more than anyone will ever know,” sharing his statement on Instagram alongside photos of the pair throughout the years.
“My heart has been broken today,” his statement said. “Even though my brother and I have had a complicated relationship, my love for him has never ever faded.”
Carter often spoke openly about his addiction and mental health issues, and said earlier this year that he was five years sober.
“I’m deeply sorry that life was so hard for you and that you had to struggle in-front of the whole world,” the actress Hilary Duff — a former child star who dated Carter when the pair were teenagers — wrote in an Instagram post. “Boy did my teenage self love you deeply,” she added.
“We are shocked and saddened about the sudden passing of Aaron Carter. Sending prayers to the Carter family,” boy band New Kids on the Block wrote, while ’90s boy band ’N Sync — which featured on a charity single with Carter in 1998 — also paid tribute to the star.
Carter was introduced to fame early in life: In 1997, while still only 9, he opened a tour for the Backstreet Boys. That same year, he released his first solo album in Europe just days before turning 10. He then went on to make several television appearances, including in an episode on the first season of “Lizzie McGuire,” in which Duff had the leading role.
“Fame at a young age is often more a curse than a blessing and Surviving it is not easy,” tweeted songwriter Diane Warren.
Like Warren, others on social media also lamented the troubles that came with Carter’s early career and life in the public eye. “The Aaron Carter news is so sad. Child stardom is deeply cruel,” read one tweet. “Stardom is a monster,” read another.
In a 2013 interview with “The Morning Show” on Canadian network Global News, Carter reflected on the darker side of child stardom, telling show hosts he “absolutely” faced challenges throughout his childhood and teenage years as a result of his celebrity — including his leaving school in second grade and being home-schooled so he could go on a world tour.
“I faced a lot of struggles,” he said. “I started off as a kid.”
He added that there were “a lot of times” when drugs were presented to him and that he got in “a lot of trouble” for using them.
In 2017, Carter revealed he was bisexual, telling fans: “This doesn’t bring me shame, just a weight and burden I have held onto for a long time that I would like lifted off me.” Two years later, he appeared in an episode of “The Doctors,” telling medical experts on the talk show that he had spent many years of his life “huffing,” or inhaling substances. Carter said he was introduced to it at the age of 16 by his sister Leslie, who herself died in 2012 of a drug overdose at the age of 25.
“I was huffing because I’m a drug addict,” he said, before going on to describe his time in rehab, which was then followed by a relapse. “I can say I’ve been through hell and back,” he said, his eyes filling with tears. “I’m back. And I’m here to stay.”
Praveena Somasundaram contributed to this report.