Ashanti and rapper Nelly were involved in a relationship that spanned 10 years and which the "What's Luv?" singer revealed left her feeling "betrayed."
At the 2003 Grammy Awards, rapper Nelly won his first award for Best Rap/Sung Performance, and he met the woman who was to be his girlfriend for the next 10 years: Ashanti.
Ashanti had bagged the Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album, and the couple crossed paths at the press conference after the show and were immediately attracted to one another.
Nelly and Ashanti during Ashanti's surprise birthday dinner in October 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia | Source: Getty Images
Although there was undeniable chemistry between them, the couple only started dating regularly a year later. Even though they showed up at gala events and red carpet affairs together, they still kept their relationship private.
Despite their discretion, Ashanti and Nelly became one of the music power couples of the decade, racking up #1 hits and millions in record sales, and prestigious awards between them.
Ashanti and Nelly at "The Wiz" opening night party in 2009 in New York City | Source: Getty Images
The couple was a match for the next 9 years, and it seemed impossible to imagine one without the other. There was even a rumor that the two were either engaged or about to be -- and then came the bombshell.
In April 2014, the news broke that Ashanti and Nelly had split up, but no explanation as to the "why" was ever given, and only the R&B singer's claim that she felt "betrayed" hinted at infidelity.
Nelly is in a long-term relationship with model Shantel Jackson whom he met in 2014 on the set of his reality TV show, "Nellysville."
Speculation about the separation flooded headlines, but Ashanti and Nelly were as discreet about their breakup as they had been about their on-going 10-year relationship.
There was one tell-tale moment shortly after the split when one of Ashanti's fans shouted out an expletive regarding Nelly, to which the R&B singer expressed heartfelt agreement.
“There’s a lot of things that happened this year (...) things that were said and things that were done that probably shouldn’t have been said or done.”
When she was asked in 2014 if there was a possibility of a reconciliation between herself and the rapper, Ashanti was adamant that the split was final and irrevocable.
Ashanti revealed to Andy Cohen in 2019 that she had never seen Nelly again since their breakup, not even at industry events. She also denied that the rapper has ever owed her any money.
While Ashanti has been dating several men, including NBA star James Harden, Nelly is in a long-term relationship with model Shantel Jackson, whom he met in 2014 on the set of his reality TV show, "Nellysville."
Jackson was previously involved with boxer Floyd Mayweather, and the relationship ended badly. Jackson accused Mayweather of assault and invasion of privacy, while Mayweather claimed Jackson had aborted his child.
THROUGH THICK AND THIN
"I would not want my life to not have Shantel in it (...) She's sweet, beautiful, and the more we got to know each other, she's just as beautiful inside."
FUTURE FOR NELLY
Fans of the rapper may look forward to seeing the footloose-and-fancy-free Romeo finally putting a ring on it and settling down with Jackson. Nelly has two grown children from previous relationships and is raising his deceased sister's two children.