Welcoming the NYU class of 2025 is a good time as any to reminisce about the year many of them were born. Some of our youngest undergraduates share a birth year with singer Olivia Rodrigo—also the year Britney Spears received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Here are some of the most memorable pop culture moments, sports wins, and news items from 2003.
Beyonce’s first solo album, Dangerously in Love, topped the Billboard charts while 50 Cent’s single “In Da Club” was Billboard Song of the Year. Norah Jones won six Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year for Come Away With Me. Britney Spears became the youngest singer to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at age 21.
Chicago took home the Oscar for Best Picture—the first musical to win the award since 1968—and the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical. Hairspray won Best Musical at the Tony Awards and Wicked opened on Broadway. Finding Nemo, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Lord Of The Rings: Return Of The King were released in theaters. Popular TV shows included Everybody Loves Raymond and The West Wing, both of which received top honors at the Emmy Awards.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the Harry Potter series, was released.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII, where Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting performed at the half time show. Michael Jordan played his last game in the NBA, and LeBron James was drafted by his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Barry Bonds became the first player in MLB history to reach 500 career home runs and 500 steals. Tennis great Roger Federer won his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon. In soccer, Lionel Messi made his team debut for FC Barcelona at age 16, while Cristiano Ronaldo made his senior international debut for Portugal at age 18.
NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission kicked off with the launch of the Spirit Rover. The international research effort called the Human Genome Project was completed two years ahead of schedule. Google launched Adsense, a program that enables website publishers to serve targeted ads to visitors. In April, Apple opened its iTunes Music Store and launched the third-generation iPod which featured the Touch Wheel.
The Northeastern region of Canada and the United States experienced a blackout that lasted two days, causing power outages for 10 million people. In political news, voters recalled California Governor Gray Davis and elected Arnold Schwarzenegger to office.