Aaliyah Haughton's sudden death has touched fans the world over, but for those who knew and loved her, the tragedy has been almost unimaginably painful.
Aaliyah's boyfriend, Roc-a-Fella co-CEO Damon Dash, said Tuesday that losing her was heartbreaking.
"She was the best person I ever knew. ... I never met a person like her in my life," Dash said, his voice breaking with emotion. "Every day that we were together, we cherished. Every memory — every day was a special event, whether it was going to a store or going to a movie or just sitting in a house. Wherever we were was like our own little party, in our own little world."
The couple shared the ability to thrive in varying social settings — from Harlem to the Hamptons and beyond — as well as a certain sense of humor, Dash remembered.
"She was the only girl that got to hang out with my homeboys on the level of a homeboy," he said. "It was like being able to be with your homeboy and your girl at the same time. ... We just generally had a lot of fun together."
Dash said that although they were not formally engaged, he and Aaliyah had planned on getting married.
"We were definitely gonna be married. As soon as she had time, we were getting married — like after 'The Matrix,' " he said. "She was the one — she was definitely the one for me. It wasn't an official proposal, we had just talked about it, you know?"
Despite her fame, Aaliyah often traveled without security and delighted in such ordinary activities as grabbing some fast food, Dash said. "She would just carry herself like such a normal individual. We just would pop into McDonald's or Wendy's or something, and people just wouldn't believe [it]," he said.
Aaliyah's cousin, Jomo Hankerson, said Aaliyah had been a star well before the world knew her name.
"We always knew Aaliyah could be something special," he said. "She came out of the womb special."
For a feature interview with Aaliyah, check out [article id="1448406"]"Aaliyah: Been A Long Time"[/article]. For reaction from fans and other readers, see "You Tell Us: Fans Remember Aaliyah".