Kobe Bryant: Brandy Mourns Former Prom Date, Lakers Star Following Tragic Death

Singer Brandy broke her silence on the death of Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday in Calabasas, California. Brandy and Bryant went to his high school prom together in 1996, when they were both 17 years old. The R&B artist shared a heartbreaking statement, along with a photo of Bryant with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna Bryant, who also died in the crash.

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"Never will I understand," Brandy wrote. "My condolences to [Vanessa Bryant], and all families who are in pain during this tragic time. Love [heart] #Mamba #Mambacita."

Weeks before Bryant was drafted by the NBA right out of high school, he asked Brandy to be his date at the Lower Merion Township High School prom at the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia in May 1996, reports E! News. At the time, Brandy was the bigger star, as she was already on her path to fame as an R&B singer and starred on the sitcom Moesha.

"He asked me to go to the prom with him, and since he was a nice guy...I asked my mom, and she said yes," Brandy told the New York Daily News in 1996.

"I said I don't know this guy. I had no idea who he was," Brandy's mother, Sonja Norwood, told the Philadelphia Daily News. "And then Brandy said, 'He's a basketball player.' And I said, 'So?'"

"I liked that he had involved parents and he was doing well academically," Norwood explained. "He seemed to be a pretty good kid. He was levelheaded and grounded. And I said OK."

Bryant had a crush on Brandy, even telling one classmate he was going to bring the singer to the prom.

"We were in English class together, and he had one of those teen magazines and it had a picture of Brandy because she was on that show, Moesha," one of Bryant's classmates, Ashley Pietropaolo told the Philadelphia Daily News. "He showed me and he said, 'I'm gonna bring this girl to prom.' And I was like 'Whatever, you're crazy.' Every day, he would be like 'I'm bringing this girl to prom.'"

Brandy and Bryant met at a Nike All-Star basketball game in Philadelphia months before the prom. They kept in touch and Brandy even secured Bryant a guest role on Moesha. They even attended the Los Angeles premiere for Arnold Schwarzenegger's move Eraser together.

Two weeks after the premiere, the Charlotte Hornets drafted Bryant in the NBA draft and traded him to the Lakers, where he spent the rest of his 20-year career. Bryant retired in 2016 with five NBA championships.

Bryant, Gianna and seven others died in the helicopter crash. They were reportedly on their way to the Mamba Academy for a basketball tournament.

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"It's just devastating in a way that I don't think any of us really imagined," Stacy Moscotti Moore, one of Bryant's classmates, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "Because we've lost people, we've lost classmates, sadly, over the last 24 years, but Kobe seemed invincible and immortal and, like, untouchable. And so to lose him so early, as we're all kind of starting our 40s, it's a reminder of mortality. It's a reminder that you never, ever know what's gonna happen."

Photo credit: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images