The twosome sparked romance speculation in early 2003 after connecting at a Grammys event. Although they played coy about their status for years, Ashanti confirmed in March 2015 that they were a couple until 2013.
Following a decade apart, Ashanti and Nelly rekindled their romance in early 2023. “A few years ago, Ashanti never would’ve imagined reconciling with Nelly, but they’re enjoying spending time together,” a source exclusively told Us Weekly in September of that year. “They don’t want to rush anything.”
Three months later, Us exclusively confirmed that the two musicians are expecting their first baby together. The child is Ashanti’s first and Nelly’s third. He already shares daughter Chanelle and son Cornell Haynes III with ex Channetta Valentine.
Scroll down to relive Ashanti and Nelly’s relationship from the beginning:
The duo first crossed paths at a Grammy Awards press conference. Ashanti later revealed that Nelly playfully asked for her autograph when they met. “I think he was being sarcastic, and I remember writing it down on the program,” she recalled during a VH1 Behind the Music special. “That picture has been in so many publications as something else, but it all started out as a joke. For the record, it took him a long time to get my number.”
Nelly was spotted at Ashanti’s 25th birthday. The following month, Ashanti was seen celebrating Nelly when he turned 31.
Ashanti brought Nelly as her date to the John Tucker Must Die premiere. In the movie, Ashanti played cheerleader Heather. The following year, the pair released their first collaboration, “Switch.”
The musicians teamed up again to release Nelly’s “Body on Me” music video just months after reports surfaced that they had split.
“We never admitted that we were together or back together or separated, but we heard that,” Nelly told Complex when asked about the twosome attending T.I.’s wedding together that August. “Only thing we ever said was we friends and it’s the same way now.”
The duo called it quits for a second time.
“I think sometimes when people have their own insecurities it allows them to act out of character,” Ashanti said of her split from Nelly during an appearance on The Meredith Vieira Show. “I’ve been betrayed. Again, you just have to grow. You have to grow up and accept responsibility for the things that you do. I’m not a big fan of people being cowards. I think it’s really important to know yourself and understand what you want and get it. I’m in a different place right now.”
Ashanti and Nelly reunited publicly for the first time while appearing on pals Ja Rule and Fat Joe’s “Verzuz” battle. Ashanti later said during an Instagram Live that she “had no idea he was gonna be there.” She explained at the time, “I have not seen him or spoken to him since we broke up. Six years or something?”
The following year, the twosome took the stage together to perform “Body on Me” at Power 98.3 and 96.1’s Under the Mistletoe concert. When asked about the reunion, Ashanti told Andy Cohen that she was surprised by how many fans were invested in her and Nelly’s dynamic.
“My reaction was wow. It was a lot of comments and a lot of people wanting that,” she revealed during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen that month. “What I will say is we’re in a better place. You know, cause before, it was like [mimics fighting]. But we’re cool now. Yeah, we have some conversations, you know. So it’s cool.”
Nelly and Ashanti sparked reconciliation rumors after they were spotted holding hands in Las Vegas while attending a boxing match.
The pair continued to fuel romance speculation when they stepped out at the 3rd Annual Birthday Ball for Quality Control CEO Pierre “P” Thomas at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta. The event marked their first red carpet as a couple since their 2013 split.
Nelly addressed his relationship with Ashanti during a clip from Philo TV’s “Boss Moves with Rasheeda,” saying, “Yeah, we cool again.” He confirmed that the rekindled romance “surprised both of us though,” adding, “It wasn’t anything that I don’t think was planned.”
The following month, Nelly gushed over his partner on her birthday. He called Ashanti “such a beautiful, an incredible person inside and out and one of the hardest working women” in an Instagram post at the time. “Happy Birthday Love ya!!!!”
When Nelly turned 49, Ashanti surprised him with a vintage 1962 Impala. “He was in total shock and overcome with emotion when he saw it. This gift meant the world to him because it had a much more sentimental reason behind it,” a source exclusively told Us at the time. “This was Nelly’s dream car since he was a kid and he couldn’t believe Ashanti gave him such a thoughtful gift. It’s one of the best presents he’s ever received.”
The insider added that Ashanti “couldn’t wait” to give Nelly the gift. “She had been planning this surprise for months and it was such a hard secret to keep. But seeing his reaction made it all worthwhile,” the source said.
Us exclusively confirmed Ashanti is pregnant. “Nelly and Ashanti are welcoming their first baby together,” an insider confirmed.