Chris Brown and Rihanna may no longer be an item, but the “Loyal” singer clearly still cares about his ex. Almost as soon as RiRi's 30th birthday began Tuesday (Feb. 20), Brown shared a happy birthday message to her on his Instagram.
With the simple caption “HAPPY BIRTHDAY @badgalriri,” the picture seems to be a childhood photo the Barbados-born singer.
The two started dating in 2008, though they met sometime around 2005 when they were both still teenagers. Their relationship took a violent turn in 2009 when Brown assaulted Rihanna in a rented car on the eve that year's Grammy Awards following Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy party.
In his 2017 documentary, Chris Brown: Welcome to My Life, Brown opened up about that night, saying it stemmed from a disagreement about his past relationships, and ended in him violently hitting her “with a closed fist” while driving. A month later, Brown was charged with felony assault and making criminal threats and in June 2009 he pleaded guilty to a felony assault charge and accepted a plea deal that included five years probation, six months community service and one year mandatory domestic violence counseling; a judge also instituted a five-year restraining order that required Brown to say at least 50 yards away from Rihanna at all time.
The two briefly got back together sometime around 2012, putting out the aptly named duet “Nobody’s Business” on Rihanna’s LP Unapologetic.
In an interview with Billboard in 2014, Brown said the incident is something people bring up to hold his career back: “As long as you’re doing something good, people will always bring up old stuff or negative stuff because they don’t want you to surpass a certain level or elevate. But as long as you have your head on straight, it shouldn’t matter what people want to say.”
As for what Instagram commenters thought the birthday post, thoughts ranged from supportive hardcore fans still shipping Rihanna and CB, asking “can ya’ll just get back together” to confusion and anger from those who are still affected by the incident: “What is your purpose? Really?”
Twitter had a similar mixed bag reactions. Check out a handful them below.