Rap mogul Russell Simmons and his wife Kimora Lee Simmons are splitting, a rep for Kimora confirms to PEOPLE.
Russell issued his own statement Friday afternoon, saying: “Kimora and I will remain committed parents and caring friends with great love and admiration for each other. We will also continue to work side by side on a daily basis as partners in all of our businesses.”
The statement also says the couple have been separated “for some time,” but have continued living under the same roof.
Russell, 48, and Kimora, 30, married in 1998 and have two daughters: Ming Lee Simmons, 6, and Aoki Lee Simmons, 3. Both girls model for Baby Phat Clothing, Kimora’s offshoot of her husband’s Phat Farm clothing line.
The former Kimora Lee, whose father is African-American and mother is Japanese-American, was a model, for Chanel and others, when she began dating Simmons, a cofounder of Def Jam Records.
The pair met in November 1992 during New York City’s Fashion Week. She was 17 and about to finish high school; he was 35 and a self-admitted ladies man.
“I was skeptical,” model Tyra Banks told PEOPLE in 2002 of her initial reaction to the relationship. But, she said: “She turned the man about town into a loving husband and papa.”
The couple were married by Simmons’s brother, Pentecostal minister and rapper Joey “Reverend Run” Simmons of Run DMC, on the Caribbean island of St. Bart’s on Dec. 20, 1998.