CANTON, Ga. — It all started senior year at Cherokee High School. Brianna was crying outside of her economics classroom when Jesse Lee came up to her and asked what was wrong.
"She kind of gave me this look and told me to get lost," he recalled. "I left and later on that evening I sent her a message saying I'm here if you need anything. The rest is history."
Jesse played football, while Brianna was a cheerleader. Years later, he'd become a Canton police officer, and she'd become his biggest cheerleader.
"She said, 'You're it' and he said, 'I'm going to the Marine Corps,' and she said, 'I'm with you,'" recalled Jesse's mother Melissa Morris.
From their senior year on, the two enjoyed a total of nearly nine years of a relationship, including a five year marriage.
"There's no replacing her," he said. "She was it. Everybody says they have a one and only. She was mine. She was, she still is, she'll always be."
Their nine year love story brought many relocations, a wedding and two children: three-year-old Will and one-week-old Amelia.
"When we found out we were having a girl, she was over the moon," added 26-year-old Jesse. "There's no words to describe how excited she was about that. I'm just thankful that she was able to spend at least a week with her. She was the happiest that I'd ever seen her, at least in a long time."
It was a nine year love story that was cut short.
"If I could trade it all to have her back, if I could change everything to have her back I would give anything. I still don't know why things like this happened," he said.
Jesse's wife, Brianna, died Sunday from a "brain injury" less than two weeks after giving birth to Amelia. She was just months away from turning 26 years old.
"I didn't think this would happen to me. I don't know what happened to her. She was she's perfectly fine an hour before that happened," Jesse said.
His colleague at the Canton Police Department, Domenick Marotta, helped set up fundraisers for the family.
"What happened was catastrophic," Domenick said. "It was completely unexpected. No one saw it coming. It blindsided everybody. The loss of life sucks, but this hit them so hard, because it was so unexpected."
The mother of two and Disney lover, Brianna was known for being the rock of the family.
"I don't know what I'm going to do without her," Jesse said.
She also was known as a selfless, sweet person within her husband's place of employment at the Canton Police Department.
"Jesse would do anything for anybody and anyone," Domenick said. "The same goes for Bri. Bri would come up, she would bring food for everybody. She made sure everybody was fed. We're gonna miss her."
“The family is in shock. Devastated heartbroken," added Melissa. "Our worlds just couldn't be more shattered. We have big shoes to fill."
Jesse spent his years, after graduating Cherokee High School in 2014, serving in the Marine Corps. He served for a total of eight years - five active, three inactive. He was deployed to Guantanamo Bay, the Middle East and Japan.
"He's a hero. He doesn't like to hear it, but at the end of the day, that's what he is," said Domenick ."I'm sure he's going to be ready to come back (to work at the police department) because that's just the kind of man he is. He wants to help everybody else."
Brianna followed Jesse through five deployments and traveled across the United States with him.
“She totally, totally backed him, loved him, immersed herself in his entire world," said Melissa. "Loves her babies, best sister, best daughter, daughter-in-law, auntie, wife, mom, friend. We couldn't ask for more.”
Now, the community the officer has served for almost two years is helping his family during this tough time.
Fundraisers have been created to raise money, provide meals, diapers, and milk for almost two-week-old Amelia.
“There's no monetary value that's gonna put anything on the loss of life, but of course, that money is going to go towards helping the family recover," said Domenick.
It's a nine year love story that now lives in Jesse's children's' DNA.
“I'm just thankful that she was able to at least leave me a part of her," Jesse said. That girl looks just like her. She has the same facial expressions, she does! She cuts her eyes the same way her mother does.”
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