Could be many things, we should start with this...
"Try Disk Utility
1. Insert the Mac OS X Install disc, then restart the computer while holding the C key.
2. When your computer finishes starting up from the disc, choose Disk Utility from the Installer menu at the top of the screen. (In Mac OS X 10.4 or later, you must select your language first.)
Important: Do not click Continue in the first screen of the Installer. If you do, you must restart from the disc again to access Disk Utility.
3. Click the First Aid tab.
4. Select your Mac OS X volume.
5. Click Repair. Disk Utility checks and repairs the disk."
Also Repair the backup drive.
Then try a Safe Boot, (holding Shift key down at bootup), run Disk Utility in Applications>Utilities, then highlight your drive, click on Repair Permissions, reboot when it completes.
(Safe boot may stay on the gray radian for a long time, let it go, it's trying to repair the Hard Drive.)
Hmm, let try a new Admin user...
To find out if it's system wide or user specific, try this...
Open System Preferences>Accounts, unlock the lock, click on the little plus icon, make a new admin account, log out & into the new account.
Does it work in the new account?
If you can't do that...
Reset OS X Password Without an OS X CD...
Starts up like the first time you buy a new Mac, but after filling in all that info again, you should have access to the computer and the other Users & files will still be there... give the new User a different name than an existing one.