"I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. I just want to say I love him so much." In her first public appearance ever, Michael Jackson's 11-year-old daughter Paris ended the two-hour memorial service with these words. They were tearful and heartfelt, and Paris made an impression that is sure to last. Michael Jackson - loving father.
The memorial was held at Staples Center in Los Angeles and on television live throughout the world. The fans were treated to a star-studded rendition of "We are the World," the song written by Jackson and Lionel Richie in 1985 to raise money for famine relief in Africa.
Mariah Carey, joined by Trey Lorenz, sang The Jackson 5's hit from 1970, "I'll Be There" as a montage of Jackson photographs were displayed on screens throughout the Staples Center. "We'll miss you, Michael," Carey said at the end of her performance.
Jackson's brother Jermaine sang "Smile," a favorite song of Michael's, struggling not to cry as he sang. His brothers were waiting to hug him as he left the stage.
There were other singers in attendance, including Queen Latifah, Smokey Robinson, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Usher. Some sang and some addressed the crowd.
Basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson spoke to the audience, as did public figures Martin Luther King III, the Rev. Bernice King and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Brooke Shields, overcome with emotion, said she bonded with Jackson at an early age "because we both understood what it was like to be in the spotlight from a very, very young age." She was 13 when the two met.
"He put on one glove, pulled his pants up and broke down the color curtain," the Rev. Al Sharpton told the large gathering, 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."
The Jackson family joined daughter Paris on stage to end the memorial service. Paris spoke after Jackson's brothers Jermaine and Marlon bid a tearful goodbye to the pop superstar.
The celebration had taken on a strange tone, because the Staples Center is not an ideal place for a memorial, and millions of people watching on television made it more of a media event than a remembrance of a life lost too early.
The news coverage continues, hours after the end of the memorial, to pay tribute to Jackson. Most television stations are staying with coverage throughout the day and into the night. In this era of 24-hour news, even this is unprecedented.
Michael Jackson in death is even bigger than he was in life. But the image of little Paris crying and saying how much she loved her "daddy" will be remembered for the fact that it put a human face on the pop superstar, who had multiple plastic surgeries and wore makeup to cover his own face.