The marriage between Kobe Bryant and Vanessa Laine Bryant which has spanned more than two decades, came to a tragic end on Sunday, Jan. 26 when the NBA legend died in a helicopter crash.
The American basketball legend who was known for flying helicopters made it a point not to fly together with his wife.
“He and Vanessa had a deal that they would never fly on a helicopter together,” a source tells PEOPLE of the couple, who tied the knot in 2001.
Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven other people were killed in Sunday’s crash. Bryant is survived by Vanessa, 37, and their daughters Natalia, 17, Bianka, 3, and Capri, who was born in June 2019.
The Laker legend and his daughter were on their way to a youth basketball game at the time of the crash, according to ESPN.
In November 1999, 21-year-old Bryant met 17-year-old Vanessa Laine while she was working as a background dancer on the Tha Eastsidaz music video “G’d Up”. Bryant was in the building and working on his debut musical album. The two began dating and became engaged six months later in May 2000.
Two months ago, Bryant penned an emotional note to his wife, Vanessa on his Instagram page in celebration of the first time the couple met.
“On this day 20 years ago I met my best friend, my Queen @vanessabryant I decided to take her on a date to Disneyland tonight to celebrate old school style (pre 4princesses) I love you my mamacita per sempre” (Per sempre means “forever” in Italian.)
The same source also told PEOPLE that Bryant “only” flew in helicopters with pilot Ara Zobayan, who was among those killed in the crash.