But one court document and a bitter separation later, he finds himself immersed in headlines as the man who began dating Fantasia Barrino – while he was still married.
The American Idol season 3 champ, 26, initially denied she had broken up Cook's marriage to his wife Paula but later confirmed she had been in an on-again, off-again relationship with him for 11 months.
Barrino, her manager said, believed Cook when he told her that he and his wife had "separated in the late summer of 2009." Even back in January, the singer spoke to PEOPLE about her relationship with Cook (whom she said was "separated") and dismissed claims he was cheating on his wife with her.
A complaint filed by Cook's wife, however, tells a different story. According to the legal papers, the couple, who married in October 2005 and have two boys together, Christian, 6, and Jackson, 2, only started living separately on June 16, 2010.
Wife's AllegationsAmong some of the wife's allegations: Cook and Barrino carried on an affair before she split with her husband, even making a sex tape, the two frequented "bars, restaurants, nightclubs and the like" together, and that they had matching tattoos.
An East Carolina University business alum who played football at the school and was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Cook obtained his real estate license in 2006 so he could "share the knowledge from my own 'good' and 'interesting' experiences in the homebuying and selling process," he says on a Web site for Keller Williams Realty, the firm he joined in August.
Describing himself as "extremely motivated" on his LinkedIn profile, Cook has also had an 8-year-long career in the telecommunications industry, including his other current job as a retail sales manager for a local T-Mobile store – where he apparently first met Barrino.
In the complaint, Cook's wife seeks custody of their two kids, along with child support and alimony.
But there's a chance even more legal action may take place. Barrino, who was hospitalized Monday for an overdose, could potentially face a lawsuit, because North Carolina is one of seven states that allows a party to sue a "home wrecker."
So what attracted Barrino to Cook in the first place? She previously told PEOPLE she wasn't interested in being with a guy who worked in the music industry. "He doesn't rap or produce," she said. "He's from my hometown. He's just a regular dude."
Reporting by CARLOS GREER