Lachey tests his acting chops, guest-starring as singer Tom Jones on American Dreams in February and later playing a love interest on the WB's Charmed. In April, the eternally "newlywedded" couple draws an audience of 11.5 million to The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour TV special.
A diehard Cincinnati sports fan, Lachey writes two columns for The Cincinnati Enquirer in the summer and then debuts on ESPN's College Gameday for a stint. "I'm living out the dream for a lot of my friends," Lachey says to PEOPLE.
Despite being spotted without their wedding rings, Lachey and Simpson take an early anniversary trip to Italy. Lachey tells PEOPLE there is "no shortage of romance." Soon after, Simpson travels to Africa without Lachey.
A day before Thanksgiving, the couple announce their separation. "This is the mutual decision of two people with an enormous amount of respect and admiration for each other," a statement says. A source close to Lachey tells PEOPLE, "I think their lives were pulling them in different directions, and they kind of had different ideas of what their marriage should be." Weeks later, Simpson files for divorce and the couple puts their 6,500-sq.-ft. Mediterranean-style home on the market.
New Life, New CD
Written during his split from Simpson, Lachey's second solo album, What's Left of Me, debuts at No. 2 on the Billboard charts. "It was inspired by what I'm going through," Lachey tells a Canadian TV show. The new bachelor is also linked to several women, including Dancing with the Stars' Cheryl Burke, stylist Kim Kardashian and Laguna Beach's Kristin Cavallari.
Divorced and Dating
Lachey's romance with MTV VJ Vanessa Minnillo proves to be sticking after she appeared in Lachey's music video "What's Left of Me." Minnillo becomes Lachey's constant companion, whether it's a summer trip to Mexico or a Labor Day visit to Lachey's hometown, Cincinnati. Meanwhile, his divorce to Simpson becomes final on June 30.
Always a sports fan, Lachey becomes part owner of the Triple-A baseball team, the Tacoma Rainiers – affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. On his love of baseball, he tells PEOPLE, "Clearly I'm not going to be playing for anybody in my lifetime, so to be involved on the ownership level is the next best thing."
Road Back to Romance
After more than three years together, Lachey, 35, and Minnillo, 28, call it quits. Though a source says the split "was the right thing for both of them to do," they reunite in October. "I was single for a minute, there, and then we've kind of patched things up," Lachey says. In November 2010, the couple takes their relationship to the next level – getting engaged.
Lachey, 37, gives marriage a second shot, tying the knot with Minnillo, 30, in a tropical ceremony at Sir Richard Branson's private Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands in front of 35 friends and family. "For us, this is just a stepping stone to do what we ultimately want and that’s to start a family together," the bride tells PEOPLE of the surprise nuptials. Adds the groom, "Our wedding invitations were in the form of a plane ticket…It was all very vague."
A Proud Papa
Lachey announces on Live! With Kelly that he and wife Vanessa are expecting their first child later this year. "I've had a chance to do a lot of great things in my career and my life but this is the one thing that, more than any other, I look forward to," says the dad-to-be. "The fact that it's actually here, it's overwhelming."
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