Even as she became increasingly more famous after her cover of Miley Cyrus‘ “Party in the USA” went viral in 2009, Christina Grimmie stayed the same self-deprecating, funny and generous person to her fans over the years.
“She had the biggest heart known to mankind,” her close friend Bria Kelly – who competed with the singer on season six of The Voice – tells PEOPLE exclusively. “She always made everyone feel welcome in her heart, especially when she was meeting fans.”
Often given hats or T-shirts as gifts by her fans, she would wear them out in public “all the time,” says Kelly. “She would use the things that they gave her and she would cherish them with her entire heart.”
According to police, Grimmie was fatally wounded by a deranged fan on Friday after opening for pop-rock band Before You Exit at the Plaza Live venue in Orlando. Her brother and tour manager Marcus Grimmie tackled the shooter to the ground, but was unable to save his sister. She was 22.
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“Her and her brother were inseparable,” says Kelly. “He’s been on tour with her countless times, and they’re both just such sweethearts and have the biggest hearts ever. That definitely comes from their mom.”
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Often speaking about her Christian faith in her YouTube videos, Grimmie “held true to that and didn’t let anything get her down,” says Kelly.
Reflecting on her late friend, Kelly believes Grimmie would have no regrets about how close she was with her fans. “She met her shooter with open arms, and that’s just the type of person she was,” she says. “I believe even if she somehow came back, she would still meet him with open arms because that’s who she was.”