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Memorable moments from the Michael Jackson Memorial

The Reverend Al Sharpton credited Jackson with demolishing racial barriers. Sharpton also called on fans to not focus on the scars of Jackson’s career, but…

The Reverend Al Sharpton credited Jackson with demolishing racial barriers. Sharpton also called on fans to not focus on the scars of Jackson’s career, but to focus on the journey. To Jackson’s kids he said: “There wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy.”

Magic Johnson’s humorous story about how he was shocked to discover that a huge star like Michael Jackson enjoyed Kentucky Fried Chicken gave fans an insider’s glimpse into an unknowable icon.

 With all the star-power in the room, it was less expected that a 12-year-old from the U.K. would make a huge impression at the memorial, but Shaheen Jafargholi’s performance of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You” inspired a raucous round of applause.

 Jennifer Hudson is no stranger to tragedy. Perhaps that’s why her performance of “Will You Be There” came across as one of the memorial’s most special moments.

 Michael’s brother Jermaine Jackson performed MJ’s favorite song: “Smile.” The lyrics were especially poignant: “Smile, what’s the use of crying/You’ll find that life is still worthwhile/If you just smile.” But perhaps the most touching moment came at the very end of the memorial when Michael’s daughter, Paris, expressed her love for her late father.

When stars came out for Michael Jackson

Whitney Houston’s latest “I love Michael” may have been offered up in passing, but the chart-topping diva—along with so many others—had already stopped to detail her feelings.

From Madonna to Usher to Britney to Liz, there was no end to the kind words and gestures. Nor will that end arrive today, as thousands gather to memorialize the King of Pop at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. But here is a smattering of the respects already paid to Jackson over the past 12 days.

Sean “Diddy” Combs, Chris Brown, The Game, Boyz II Men, Polo and Mario Winans whipped up the tribute track “Better on the Other Side.” The 2009 BET Awards then largely turned into a tribute to the King of Pop, with host Jamie Foxx sporting “Beat It”-style gear, Janet Jackson making a surprise appearance, and Ne-Yo, Queen Latifah, Beyoncé and Ciara offering up various musical shout-outs. (Meanwhile, Sacha Baron Cohen and Universal Pictures excised a piece of Brüno that poked fun at Jackson and sister La Toya.) On July 4 at London’s O2 Arena, Madonna and her backup dancers donned one sparkly glove apiece and gave it up for “one of the greatest artists the world has ever known.”

Perhaps Britney Spears will dedicate a show to Michael, too. “I was so excited to see his show in London,” she said. “We were going to be on tour in Europe at the same time and I was going to fly in to see him. He has been an inspiration throughout my entire life and I’m devastated he’s gone!” Paul McCartney called his fellow icon “a massively talented boy man with a gentle soul.” Chris Brown said of Jackson, “[He’s] the reason why I do music and why I am an entertainer.” Added Usher: “I would not be the artist, performer, and philanthropist I am today without the influence of Michael…He broke barriers, he changed radio formats! With music, he made it possible for people like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama to impact the mainstream world. His legacy is unparalleled.”

Speaking of Obama, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president referred to Jackson as a “music icon,” albeit one who had “aspects of his life that were sad and tragic.”

“We have lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only pop music but of all music,” said Justin Timberlake. “He has been an inspiration to multiple generations, and I will always cherish the moments I shared with him on stage and all of the things I learned about music from him and the time we spent together.”

“When we worked together on ‘Bad,’ I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion,” recalled Martin Scorsese.

Steven Spielberg said, “Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson. His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him legend.”

“Let us remember him for his unparalleled contribution to the world of music, his generosity of spirit in his quest to heal the world, and the joy he brought to his millions of devoted fans throughout the world,” offered Mariah Carey, who also appeared at the memorial.

And some of the even sadder sentiments

Longtime confidante Elizabeth Taylor was too distraught to speak out right away, and here’s why: “I loved Michael with all my soul and I can’t imagine life without him. We had so much in common and we had such loving fun together…He will live in my heart forever, but it’s not enough. My life feels so empty.”

Diana Ross, who turned out to be Jackson’s second choice, after his mom, to take care of his children, called his death “too stunning and shocking.” Lisa Marie Presley recalled a conversation she and her then-husband had 14 years ago, in which “he paused, he stared at me very intensely and he stated with an almost calm certainty, ‘I am afraid that I am going to end up like [Elvis], the way he did.’ “

Friend and producer Quincy Jones, one of the first celebs to react, was devasted by the “tragic and unexpected news,” saying, “I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.” He will not be attending M.J.’s memorial, having said he doesn’t do funerals anymore. “I can’t handle it.” But it’s not as if everyone had a close, personal relationship with Jackson, especially these last few years. But perhaps Alicia Keys said it best:”We all know him in one way or another. In some way he has touched us, been the voice of one of our sweetest memories. And what a wonderful, genuine, compassionate, soft-spoken giant so full of love.”

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