Kobe Bryant: See How Vanessa Bryant Became 'Queen Mamba' Through the Years

As the world mourns the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, who were among the nine victims of a tragic helicopter crash outside of Los Angeles Sunday, millions of people are turning their thoughts and prayers to the retired NBA player's wife of 19 years, Vanessa Bryant. Also known as Queen Mamba in reference to her husband's nickname on the court, Vanessa had been by her husband's side since early in his career.

The summer before Vanessa's senior year in high school, she was asked to appear in a music video alongside rappers Snoop Dogg and Tha Eastsidaz for their 1999 song "G'd Up," and soon after a second appearance in a music video met Kobe, the 20-year-old star of the Los Angeles Lakers.

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"The day we met 20 years ago. K.o.b.e. I L.o.v.e. YOU," Vanessa wrote alongside a photo from that fateful day during a November Instagram post. "[Kobe] #forever 11/27/99 #firstpic."

Vanessa and Bryant were soon inseparable, and just six months after the two met, the Lakers star proposed at her 18th birthday party. They married in 2001, and in 2002 announced they were expecting a daughter, Natalia Diamante Bryant, who was born on Jan. 19, 2003.

Vanessa stood beside him when later that year a 19-year-old woman accused him of sexually assaulting her, giving a statement of her support to the press at the time. Ultimately, his accuser didn't testify, and the case was dropped in September 2004. Bryant and his accuser settled a civil suit out of court for an undisclosed amount months later in March 2005.

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#tbt 2007 😘(sequined shorts for my 25th birthday)

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Three years after the birth of Natalia, the couple welcomed daughter Gianna Bryant on May 1, 2006.

"The arrival of our daughter early this morning is an incredible blessing for me and my family," Kobe said in a statement to PEOPLE at the time. "We are all full of beautiful emotions after what has been such an incredible day."

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The couple did face more tough times in the days to come, with Vanessa filing for divorce in Orange County Superior Court in December 2011. Soon after, the couple announced they had reconciled, however.

"We are looking forward to our future together," Vanessa said on Instagram at the time.

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2020

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In 2016, Bryant and Vanessa welcomed their third daughter, Bianka Bryant, just before he announced his retirement from the NBA, and three years later the couple welcomed daughter Capri Kobe Bryant in 2019.

After Bryant and Gianna were killed in a tragic helicopter crash Sunday, Vanessa shared a family photo on Instagram alongside a statement about her family's loss.

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"My girls and I want to thank the millions of people who’ve shown support and love during this horrific time. Thank you for all the prayers. We definitely need them. We are completely devastated by the sudden loss of my adoring husband, Kobe — the amazing father of our children; and my beautiful, sweet Gianna — a loving, thoughtful, and wonderful daughter, and amazing sister to Natalia, Bianka, and Capri," she wrote.

"We are also devastated for the families who lost their loved ones on Sunday, and we share in their grief intimately," she continued. "There aren’t enough words to describe our pain right now. I take comfort in knowing that Kobe and Gigi both knew that they were so deeply loved. We were so incredibly blessed to have them in our lives. I wish they were here with us forever. They were our beautiful blessings taken from us too soon."

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"I’m not sure what our lives hold beyond today, and it’s impossible to imagine life without them. But we wake up each day, trying to keep pushing because Kobe, and our baby girl, Gigi, are shining on us to light the way. Our love for them is endless — and that’s to say, immeasurable. I just wish I could hug them, kiss them and bless them. Have them here with us, forever," she concluded. "Thank you for sharing your joy, your grief and your support with us. We ask that you grant us the respect and privacy we will need to navigate this new reality."

Photo credit: Chris Weeks/Liaison/Getty