MICHAEL JACKSON’S MEMORIAL
Paris Katherine Jackson, 11, said goodbye to her father at the close of the memorial service.
LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) — Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris Katherine addressed mourners at the Staples Center on Tuesday, tearfully telling them her father was “the best father you could ever imagine.”
“Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine,” the 11-year-old said. “And I just wanted to say I love him so much.”
Jackson’s children, who often have been hidden by veils or blankets when seen with their father, were sitting in the front row at the Staples Center as their father’s life and music were remembered.
Paris’ eloquent words led some to wonder whether her tribute was planned.
“No, no not at all,” said Kenny Ortega, who directed and coordinated the service, speaking to CNN’s Campbell Brown.
“None of us were aware they were even coming,” he told CNN’s Campbell Brown. “It was a surprise they were there. All of us who know them were delighted they were strong enough to come and feel this love and great outpouring for their dad.”
“We didn’t know who was going to speak,” Ortega said. “There was an openness we offered” the family to thank the audience.
Jackson’s remains were nearby in a closed, rose-draped, bronze casket. His brothers, who served as pallbearers, wore single white sequined gloves, a tribute to their brother’s signature look of the 1980s.
“Michael, when you left us, a part of me went with you,” brother Marlon Jackson said. “And a part of you will live forever within me, but also a part of you will live forever within all of us.”
Marlon Jackson said the world could not understand what his brother endured “being judged and ridiculed.”
“How much pain can one man take,” Marlon Jackson asked. “Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone.”
Before the final words Jackson’s band members, family, children and celebrities filled the stage to sing Jackson’s “Heal the World.”
The song followed a performance of “We are the World,” the 1985 hit written by Jackson and Lionel Richie to raise money for African famine relief. Watch a star-studded performance of ‘We are the World’ »
“The more I think and talk about Michael Jackson, I feel the King of Pop is not big enough for him,” said Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records. “I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.”
Several of Jackson’s older brothers carried his casket — bronze with 14-karat gold-plate handles, according to the manufacturer — to the front of the stage, which resembled a church sanctuary with a stained-glass backdrop. The Andrae Crouch Choir sang the hymn “Soon and Very Soon.”
Mariah Carey was joined by Trey Lorenz singing The Jackson 5’s 1970 hit “I’ll Be there” as a montage of Jackson photographs appeared on arena screens.
Queen Latifah, saying she was on stage to represent “millions of fans inspired by Michael,” said “Michael was the biggest star on earth.” Lionel Richie then performed the song “Jesus is Love.”
Stevie Wonder took the stage next.
“This is a moment that I wished that I didn’t live to see come, but as much as I can say that and mean it, I do know that God is good,” Wonder said. “And I do know that as much as we may feel, and do, that we need Michael with us, God must have needed him more.”
Wonder then delivered an emotional version of his 1971 song “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer.”
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant, who spoke along with former Lakers legend Magic Johnson, said Michael Jackson set a world record for the “most charities supported by a pop star.”
Johnson said he met Jackson when the singer was a Lakers’ season ticket holder.
“I truly believe that Michael made me a better point guard and basketball player as I watched him be so great and be the greatest entertainer ever,” Johnson said.
Singer Jennifer Hudson sang Jackson’s song “Will You Be There.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton also addressed the crowd and spoke of Jackson’s contribution to the music world.
“When Michael started, it was a different world, but because Michael kept going, because he didn’t accept limitations, because he refused to let people decide his boundaries, he opened up the whole world in the music world,” Sharpton said. “He put on one glove, pulled his pants up and broke down the color curtain.”
Sharpton then addressed Jackson’s children.
“There wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy,” he said. “It was strange what your daddy had to deal with, but he dealt with it.”
John Mayer played lead guitar on the song “Human Nature,” from Jackson’s “Thriller” album.
An emotional Brooke Shields, who was 13 when she became close friends with Jackson, said they bonded “because we both understood what it was like to be in the spotlight from a very, very young age.”
“What we did do was laugh,” she recounted. “It was always a competition to see who could make the other one laugh more or be sillier.”
The service turned to tears, though, as Jackson’s brother Jermaine sang “Smile,” a favorite song of Michael’s.
Two of Martin Luther King Jr.’s children, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, also spoke about the King of Pop.
Usher later sang “Gone Too Soon,” as he walked toward Jackson’s casket.
Smokey Robinson joked about his reaction when 10-year-old Michael recorded a song Robinson had written.
“I quickly went over to him, because I wanted to see his birth certificate,” Robinson said. “I didn’t believe that someone that young could have a lot of know. You have to have a lot of know to sing that song.”
Earlier in the memorial Robinson read personal messages from several of Jackson’s celebrity friends who did not attend.
“Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my life, part of the fabric of my life, in a way that I can’t seem to find words to express” Diana Ross said in a message read by Robinson.
Robinson also read a message from former South Africa President Nelson Mandela, saying they had grown close after trips and performances in South Africa.
“We had great admiration for his talent and that he was able to triumph over tragedy on so many occasions in his life,” Robinson said, relaying the message.
The public memorial followed an earlier gathering by Jackson’s family and closest friends at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills.