Real name: Rebecca Gayheart
Birthdate: August 12, 1972
Partner: Brett Ratner
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Gayheart was born in Hazard, Kentucky but raised in Pinetop, Kentucky, by parents of Irish, Mexican, Italian, German and Cherokee Indian heritage. Her father, Curtis, was a coal miner. She moved to New York City at 15 where she completed her education at New York's Professional Children's School and the Lee Strasberg Institute.
Gayheart was for a time engaged to director Brett Ratner. She and actor Eric Dane were married on October 29, 2004.
On June 13, 2001, Gayheart struck and fatally injured nine-year-old Jorge Cruz Jr. as he crossed a Los Angeles-area street. According to the police report, the child was walking home from school and crossed the street. While several cars stopped to let him go, Gayheart swerved around them and into a two-way left-turn lane, striking the boy. Her attorney, Steven Lerman, subsequently admitted Gayheart had been using a cell phone during impact.
Cruz died the next day at Los Angeles Children's Hospital. His parents, Jorge Cruz and Silvia Martinez, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on August 6, 2001, against her, seeking coverage of medical and funeral expenses, and compensation for loss of future earnings. The lawsuit was settled out of court, and settlement terms were not disclosed. On November 27, 2001, she pleaded no contest to vehicular manslaughter. She was sentenced to three years probation, a one-year suspension of her license, a $2,800 fine, and 750 hours of community service. She was also ordered to make a public-service announcement.
Later that year, she flipped a rental car into two parked cars with her father commenting that, "I've told my wife not to let her drive any more."