Chris Brown showed love for his ex-girlfriend Rihanna in honor of her 30th birthday, but his tribute left some fans scratching their heads because of the pair’s tumultuous past.
The “Loyal” singer, 28, shared a childhood photo of the Barbados native on his Instagram account in the early hours of Tuesday, February 20, alongside the caption, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY @badgalriri.” The post has since amassed more than 630,000 likes — and plenty of angry comments, many of which reference the night that Rihanna was sent to the hospital after being brutally assaulted by then-beau Brown in February 2009.
“KEEP RIHANNA’S NAME OUT OF YOUR MOUTH,” one frustrated Instagram user commented on the post. Another wrote, “Delete this?? Abusing women and continuing to stalk them long after they’ve moved on is creepy and sad, not funny or cute.”
“So we just gonna pretend like 2009 didn’t happen?” a third fan wrote. Another commented, “Just stop, Chris. This is getting sad.”
Brown assaulted Rihanna in his car on the eve of the 2009 Grammy Awards, about one year into their relationship. He pleaded guilty to the crime and accepted a plea deal that included nearly five years of probation and one year of domestic violence counseling. The singers briefly rekindled their romance in late 2012 but split for good in mid-2013.
“I was very protective of him,” the “Work” songstress told Vanity Fair in November 2015. “I felt that people didn’t understand him. … But you know, you realize after a while that in that situation you’re the enemy. You want the best for them, but if you remind them of their failures, or if you remind them of bad moments in their life, or even if you say I’m willing to put up with something, they think less of you — because they know you don’t deserve what they’re going to give.”
Rihanna is now dating Saudi billionaire businessman Hassan Jameel.