Inside Nicole Richie’s adoption story and family life as she turns 41

Nicole Richie first shot to fame in reality TV series The Simple Life, alongside famous hotel-heiress best friend Paris Hilton.

On the first series of the reality show, the two wealthy socialites lived with a family in the rural community of Altus, Arkansas for a month as they learnt how to work in low-paying jobs and adapt to their new environment.

However, life hasn't always been plain sailing for the now-fashion designer as the former party girl battled with family issues and drug use over the years.

Here's everything you need to know about Nicole Richie's upbringing, from her early adoption to her stints in rehab.

Is Nicole Richie related to Lionel Richie?

Nicole was born on September 21, 1981 in Berkeley, California.

Her biological parents are Karen Moss, who was then a backstage assistant for Lionel Richie, and her musician partner Peter Escovedo, a member of Lionel’s band.

Nicole's biological parents were having difficulties in their relationship, so Lionel and his wife Brenda offered to look after Nicole on a temporary basis.

Recalling the moment he first met a young Nicole – who was playing tambourine on stage at a Prince concert in 1983 – Lionel said: “I thought, ‘Oh my God, what a cute little button.’”

Six years later, the Richies' officially adopted Nicole and she took their name.

However, Nicole was crushed at the age of 10 when dad Lionel left Brenda for another woman and went on to have two more kids – Sofia Richie and Miles Brockman, who are both models.

Why did Nicole Richie go to rehab?

Due to her world-famous dad, Nicole grew up in the spotlight and was a regular on the showbiz circuit.

In her teenage years, Nicole admitted to falling in with the wrong crowd, who introduced her to hard drugs.

At just 14 years old, she was doing cocaine and by 19, she had moved on to heroin.

According to the socialite, substance abuse offered an escape from the emotional pain she had been suffered.

She previously told Vanity Fair: "I went into drugs so I wouldn’t have to deal with it."

Following her stint on The Simple Life, Nicole's life began to spiral out of control as she was arrested for possession of heroin.

Lionel recalled a heartbreaking phone call with his daughter in 2005 on Piers Morgan's Life Stories, which aired in 2015.

He said: "Nicole became a huge star herself in The Simple Life with Paris Hilton. She fell off the rails and she got into drugs and the wrong kind of friends and was arrested for possession of heroin and went to rehab."

"That's a fairly cataclysmic thing for any father to have to watch his beautiful, young daughter go through."

Lionel added during the interview that he cancelled his world tour to help his daughter with her drug battle after two of her friends died from an overdose.

He said: "I got a phone call and she said, 'Dad I need help, I don't want to be the third one'. And I said, I am with you,' and I cancelled the tour.

"I said, 'Me and your mother', who didn't get along that well, 'Me and your mother are checking into rehab with you."

Why did The Simple Life come to an end?

The Simple Life made its TV debut in 2003 and it soon became one of the first big reality shows of the Noughties.

Nicole and Paris' antics on The Simple Life included milking cows on a dairy farm, working a fast food drive-thru and looking after kids in a day care centre, where Nicole took more naps than the toddlers.

Shortly before the show aired, Nicole was busted by police who found heroin in her car. She pleaded guilty to all charges and went on to film her first scenes just 10 days after getting clean.

The Simple Life ran for five seasons, eventually ending in 2007 due to Nicole and Paris’ very public fallout.

Both refused to say what caused the massive bust-up, but Paris told People magazine at the time: "It's no big secret that Nicole and I are no longer friends. Nicole knows what she did, and that's all I'm ever going to say about it."

The famous duo were reunited in November 2021 as Nicole attended Paris Hilton's wedding to Carter Reum.

Why was Nicole Richie given jail time?

Following her run-ins with the law and stints in rehab, Nicole cleaned up in 2006 after she was arrested once again in California for driving under the influence.

She later confessed to using marijuana and Vicodin before getting behind the wheel and was sentenced to four days in jail.

However, she only ended up spending 82 minutes behind bars due to overcrowding.

Is Nicole Richie married?

Upon her release from prison, a then 25-year-old Nicole vowed to turn her life around after revealing she was pregnant by her Good Charlotte singer boyfriend, Joel Madden – and the star has been sober ever since.

Daughter, Harlow Winter Kate, was born in January 2008, followed by son, Sparrow James Midnight, who was born in September 2009.

Nicole and Joel – brother of Benji Madden, who is married to Cameron Diaz – tied the knot in December 2010 in a lavish French garden themed ceremony on Lionel Richie’s estate.

The nuptials reportedly included 155 a guests and a live elephant.

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