Brandy, 40, just posted the sweetest tribute to friend Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old Gianna who tragically died in a helicopter crash on Sunday, Jan. 26. “Never will I understand,” the R&B singer captioned the Instagram image, posted on Friday, Jan. 31. “My condolences to @vanessabryant , the entire family, and all in pain during this tragic time. Love ♥️ #Mamba #Mambacita,” she continued, referencing Kobe’s wife Vanessa Bryant, 37, their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, 8 mos., along with the rest of the Bryant clan. In the painting-like photo, a smiling Kobe sweetly embraces his daughter who lovingly leans into her dad.
The singer and Kobe go way back, with the basketball star asking Brandy to Lower Merion Township High School senior prom in Philadelphia back in 1996. The pair met casually at a Nike All-Star Basketball game, where Kobe was immediately smitten. At the time, Brandy had released her debut 1994 album and was starring on UPN’s 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 revealed to New York Daily News at the time.
“I said I don’t know this guy. I had no idea who he was,” Brandy’s mom Sonja Norwood said in another 1996 interview with the Philadelphia Daily News. “And then Brandy said, ‘He’s a basketball player.’…I liked that he had involved parents and he was doing well academically…He seemed to be a pretty good kid. He was levelheaded and grounded. And I said OK,” she admitted. The two 17 year olds were dressed to the nines for the occasion, with Kobe in a dapper tuxedo and Brandy in a gorgeous champagne-colored gown by Moschino, shawl, and long braids. Brandy later admitted that she still had the dress in a TMZ interview, adding that prom was “a special night.”
Brandy and Kobe crossed paths several times that year, walking the red carpet for Arnold Schwarznegger‘s movie Eraser just two weeks before he was drafted into the NBA! Kobe also guest-starred in Brandy and Ray J’s popular sitcom Moesha, which was his acting debut.