Thousands mourned the 2009 death of Michael Jackson, but none more than his own children.

Two weeks after Jackson’s death, from cardiac arrest brought on by powerful sedatives, his three kids – Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., nicknamed “Prince,” then 12, Paris Michael Jackson, then 11, and Prince Michael Jackson II, nicknamed “Blanket,” then 7 – fought back tears in a downtown Los Angeles sports arena filled with nearly 10,000 mourners.

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In the years since that public memorial, the Jackson kids have had an unorthodox upbringing and weathered the squabbles of the sprawling Jackson clan but have done their best to lead normal lives.

“The kids live like Michael is constantly looking down upon them,” a family friend says in the current issue of PEOPLE. And those who know his daughter Paris say she, in particular, has the same “passionate personality” as her father.


For more on the Jackson children and their life now, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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“Basically, as a person,” her brother Prince told Rolling Stone earlier this year, “she is who my dad is.”

The stunning 19-year-old with the piercing blue eyes – who struggled with a number of issues (including, she says, depression, drug addiction and suicide attempts) while in high school – has emerged as Hollywood’s latest It girl, making headlines with appearances on red carpets and multiple magazine covers.

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Credit: Lester Cohen/WireImage

In March, she reportedly signed a seven-figure modeling deal with IMG Models in March.

Weeks later Paris, who sports 50 tattoos (including the logo from her father’s Dangerous album) and lives by herself in the tiny music studio Jackson built in his childhood home in Encino, California, landed a role beside Charlize Theron in the upcoming thriller Gringo.

“She’s the happiest I’ve ever seen her,” says the family friend.