Backstreet Boys: Wise Guys

Grab your pencil and get ready to take notes! The "I Want It That Way" sweeties sit down with BOP to reveal awe-inspiring words of the wisdom that have shaped their lives.

We know, it sounds pretty impossible. But the Backstreet Boys insist that if you knew them in their elementary school days, you'd think they were nothing more than normal, ordinary kids. But in the years since then, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean, and Kevin Richardson have morphed into fiveof the most loved and admired music stars on the planet, with two hit-happy CDs- 1997's Backstreet Boys and 1999's Millennium- selling out faster than Nick can mow through McDonald's French fries. (Now that's fast!)

Just how did the fellas make this major transformation? When we sit down to talk with them, we suggest that it's all thanks to their natural sweetness and talent. Of course, these modest dudes say, "No way!" to that idea. Instead, they tell BOP that they've all been guided by powerful words of wisdom as they've grown up.

In 27-year-old Kevin's case, those words came from his dad and mom, Jerald and Ann, who made sure that success didn't turn their ultra-sweet-natured son into a snob. "They always told me, 'Remember who was there in the beginning,'" recalls the cat-walk-ready cutie. "A lot of people get successful and everybody jumps on the bandwagon, but back in the day when you were nobody, who stood by you? Remember them. Those are your true friends."

Thanks to this savvy advice, Kev has always stayed tight with the "really, really good friends" from his kid days in Kentucky. He knows that for better or for worse, they'll always be there for him. And as far as this grateful guy is concerned, that kind of loyalty is worth way more than all the money in the bank! No wonder he now says, "Listen to your parents. They have the best advice to give."

AJ agrees that 'rents have some awesome words of wisdom. In fact, although he's all grown-up now, the 21-year-old songster has revealed that he still turns to his mom, Denise, when he's in need of sage suggestions. However, the advice that made the biggest impact on his life didn't come from Denise, it came from British popster Robbie Williams, who shared a convo with the Backstreet Boys at an awards show a few years ago. "Right before going on stage, he said, 'Let me tell you guys a little something,'" AJ recounts. "'Never lose sight of what you have. Always be aware that it can be gone tomorrow, so enjoy every second of every minute that you have with these guys and just make it last because you never kow if it could be your time.'"

Deeply moved by Robbie's advice, AJ vowed that from then on he would never allow himself to take the good times in his life- like his best buds, his family, and his puppies, Bear and Panda- for granted for a millisecond. "I'm really lucky," he says today. "I just want to enjoy life and do everything on the planet."

Howie feels the same way, thanks to a remark his dad, Hoke, made not too long ago while kicking back with his megastar son. "My dad was like, 'I'm just going to jump into your suitcase and come with you,'" the 25-year-old Florida native reveals. "He said, 'You're really lucky to get a chance to see all the parts of the world that we only read about in history books and see on TV."

Sure, Howie D had always like zooming around the globe, but he never realized until that moment that his travels gave firsthand access to some of the world's most amazing places and cultures. "Here I am, getting a chance to see all these places," the silken-voiced songster marvels. "I'm really thankful."

Now Howie makes sure to take advantage of the opportunity to expand his mind by exploring all the places he visits. "I'm always like, 'Yeah, let's go!'" Howie grins. "And in every country we go to, I try to eat something traditional. I'm adventurous, I'll try anything!"

While 24-year-old Brian agrees that there's nothing wrong with being adventurous, he admits that the best advice he ever received was to do that opposite- to be very, very careful. "These famous words from my mother," shares the blushworthy babe. "She said to me when I left home, 'You know, it's okay to get your feet wet, but just don't drown.'"

Brian's mom, Jackie, was cautioning the twinkle-eyed talent not to take on more than he can handle. After all, you should never dive into the deep end of the pool if you can't swim, right? Right! No wonder Brian instantly took his mom's words to heart. "I've never forgotten it," he declares. "My mother- and my father, too- has been a major influence in my life."

And Jackie's cautionary comment had a major impact on the way Brian tackles his career. He stays stress-free and happy because he's not afraid to speak up for himself when he feels like he's in over his head. "You really have to know you limits," says this shrewd sweetie, who went on to write "The Perfect Fan" for his advice-dispensing mom.

It's a pretty safe bet that Nick has taken this "know your limits" advice to heart, too. He's always considered Brian to be as wise as a treeful of owls. "He's helped me a lot," Nick says thankfully of his groupmate's words of wisdom. In fact, it was this insightful fella who gave Nick the words that have become his personal motto today: "Live your life to the fullest and enjoy every day," Brian told the 19-year-old songster.

That comment struck a nerve with Nick. Immediately, Nick resolved to look for the fun- and the funny!- side of life. That's way nowadays he never lets everyday irritations and petty details put him in a grumpy mood. "A sense of humor is cool," grins this self-described jokester. "People who are straight-up serious all the time annoy me. You've got to laugh at things."

However, Nick will also tell you that it's never smart to laugh at good advice. Now those are words of wisdom we can all live by!

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