Credit: Rick Rowell/ABC Television Group ©2010 Disney Photo: Brad Womack and Emily Maynard in the Season 15 Premiere

UPDATE: For the details on Emily Maybard's split with Brad Womack, read our recap of her interview with Chris Harrison.

 

While Brad Womack was busy apologizing for his very existence, Emily Maynard was busy stealing his first episode of The Bachelor Season 15. And she kept on stealing... all the way to the finale, when Brad got down on one knee and popped the question with a $90,000 rock.

Emily's story about losing the love of her life at age 19 has touched the hearts of just about everybody. Since we're going to be seeing a lot more of the adorable Southern Barbie, let's learn a little more about her:

As she mentioned, she was engaged for about six months to NASCAR Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series driver Ricky Hendrick, before he died in a plane crash on October 24, 2004. (Watch a slideshow of photos of the adorable couple.)

According to Catchfence, while flying to a race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia, the plane crashed in the Bull Mountain area after passing through a dense fog. Among the 10 Hendrick Motorsports racing team members who were killed were Ricky's uncle, team president John Hendrick, and his twin daughters, Kimberly and Jennifer Hendrick.

But there was a silver lining to the dark cloud.

"Emily came over to the house the night after the memorial service and told us [Hendrick and his wife, Linda] she was pregnant," Ricky's father, Rick Hendrick, told Scene Daily in 2005. "At the lowest time of our life, it was like a miracle that happened for us because we get a chance to have a piece of Ricky left. I can’t describe how happy and how excited we are. We can't wait to see that baby’' eyes. When she told us, it was hard to even believe. It was like God had given us back something. We had lost so much."

Are you crying yet? We thought so. Emily gave birth to cute little Josephine Riddick "Ricki" Hendrick on June 29, 2005.

After giving birth to Ricki, Emily has worked in broadcast journalism as a host of Speed Channel's podcast Emily on the Scene in 2006 and then as host for the behind-the-scenes series Three Wide Life. The 24-year-old West Virginia native is billed on The Bachelor as an event coordinator at a hospital — that would be the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, which includes the Ricky Hendrick Centers for Intensive Care. The pediatric intensive-care facility was named for Ricky after his parents donated $3 million to the hospital.

In terms of Emily's romantic past, she has also been linked to NASCAR driver Dale Earhardt Jr. Starcasm published some emails from Dale Jr. fans, one of which said that Dale and Emily "never officially declared themselves a couple, but did go out together and spend a lot of time with one another in early 2006." Another fan said that since Dale and Ricky were friends, Emily felt comfortable with him because she thought Ricky would approve. 

But would Ricky approve of Brad? Since so many people seem to still hate the guy, it's up in the air – and so seems their relationship. Since the finale proposal, there have been more breakup-to-makeup-to-breakup rumors than we can keep up with. Though it hasn't stopped us from trying!

Of course, if Em was to get off the Brad wagon for good, it's not like she'd have much trouble getting a date– one vocal admirer being "Bad News" Bentley Williams from the latest season of The Bachelorette. The villain of Season 7 made it known from the very first episode he had wished the Bachelorette had been Emily and not Em's fellow Season 15 contestant Ashley Hebert. Awkward! No worries, though. He's definitely the kind of guy she knows to stay away from. Check out her first thoughts on the jerkwad who breaks Ashley's heart in a way that makes Frank Neuschaffer seem like Prince Charming: