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Michael Jackson Memorial: Daughter leads emotional tribute

Michael Jackson

Story by Jack Foley

MICHAEL Jackson’s 11-year-old daughter led the emotional tributes at an emotional memorial service to mark the pop superstar’s death.

Paris Jackson fought back tears as she described her dad as “the best father you could ever imagine”.

Her tribute continued: “I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much.”

Thousands of fans gathered to say an emotional farewell to the king of pop at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Tuesday, July 7 (2009), as millions of viewers across the world tuned in to watch footage of the ceremony.

Michael Jackson died on on Thursday, June 25, after suffering a cardiac arrest. The memorial service at the Staples Center was attended by 17,500 fans who acquired free tickets in an online ballot. It followed a private family funeral at the Forest Lawn cemetery earlier in the day.

In the build up to the memorial service, roads were closed off and concrete barriers erected outside the Staples Center, where Jackson had been rehearsing a comeback show before his sudden death at the age of 50.

The singer’s coffin was placed in front of the stage during the event, while stars including Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey paid tribute before the family joined a sombre finale on stage.

Jackson’s siblings, children and parents took part in a chorus of We Are The World and Heal the World before his family, with the brothers each wearing a single jewelled glove in Jackson’s honour, then took to the podium.

Marlon Jackson then took the opportunity to speak of the troubles his brother faced, saying: “We will never, never, understand what he endured. Not being able to walk across the street without a crowd gathered around, being judged, being ridiculed. How much pain can one take?

“Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone.”

His comments reiterated earlier comments from the likes of civil rights leader, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who told Jackson’s children: “There weren’t nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with but he dealt with it.”

Motown boss Berry Gordy, who first signed the Jackson Five, ended his tribute with the words: “Michael, thank you for the joy, thank you for the love. You will live in my heart forever.”

Messages were also read from absent guests including former South African President Nelson Mandela, poet Maya Angelou and singer Diana Ross.

Read our Michael Jackson obituary