In 1992, the “Larger than Life” performer auditioned for the boyband and became the first official member of BSB. He was later joined by Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Kevin Richardson and Brian Littrell. Following their formation, the musical group rose to fame throughout the 90s and early 2000s.
Despite the success, McLean has battled his own personal demons from the age of 22. During an October 2020 interview with Good Morning America, the “Shape Of My Heart” crooner confessed he tried cocaine for the first time while on the set of BSB’s music video for “The Call.”
“The first time I tried drugs was literally an hour before my call time to ‘The Call’ video shoot,” he recalled to GMA‘s Will Reeve. “I was off the walls.”
McLean’s bandmates noticed a change in his behavior when he started to skip rehearsals and they intervened.
“They basically broke into my house, and they dumped ice water on me while I was passed out in my bed,” McLean told GMA at the time. “Everybody started to catch on. I wasn’t me anymore, you know. I was just living a lie.”
Throughout his decades-long battle, McLean has gone to rehab on multiple occasions and he has admitted to overdosing twice. While competing on Dancing With the Stars in 2020, the “Everybody” artist credited his then-wife, Rochelle McLean, for staying by his side through his darkest times. (AJ and Rochelle tied the knot in 2011 but separated in March 2023. The twosome share two daughters, Elliott and Lyric, who were born in 2012 and 2017, respectively.)
“My wife means everything to me as does the fact that she’s been here still, to this day, with me after all the bad things I’ve done in my life that have hurt people — especially her,” he wrote in an exclusive blog post for Us Weekly at the time. “She’s always seen the good in me and seen past — as hard as it may be to see past — all the bad stuff I did when I was drinking and using drugs. But things are the best they’ve ever been today, and I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
A few months later, AJ celebrated his first anniversary of being substance-free.
“I’m gonna be one-year sober tomorrow, which is insane,” the “Quit Playing Games” artist said on a December 2020 episode of his “Pretty Messed Up” podcast. “As long as I’m keeping my side of the street clean, I can’t worry about keeping your side of the street clean. And everything actually worked itself out. I feel much better.”
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Keep scrolling to see AJ’s ups and downs over the years:
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