Read his tribute now...
Jason Gregory
18:23 7th July 2009

Nelson Mandela has paid tribute to Michael Jackson, describing the star as “a close member of our family”.

The former South African president also paid tribute to how Jackson had managed to “triumph over tragedy on some many occasions in his life”.

Mandela’s comments about Jackson were read out at the star’s public memorial service in Los Angeles by Smokey Robinson.

You can read the full letter below:

“Dear Jackson family,

It is with great sadness that we learnt of the untimely death of Michael Jackson. Michael became close to use after he started visiting and performing in South Africa regularly.

We became fond of him and he became a close member of our family. We had great admiration for his talent and that he was able to triumph over tragedy on some many occasion in his life.

Michael was a giant and a legend in the music industry and we mourn with the millions of fans worldwide. We also mourn with his family and his friends over the loss of a dear friend. He will be missed and memories cherished of him for a long time.

Be strong,

Nelson Mandela”


Robinson also read out a letter from Jackson’s close friend Diana Ross, who did not attend the star’s memorial.

Follow the event as it happens now on Gigwise’s live blog here.

Michael Jackson's Last Goodbye - PHOTOS

  • Forest Lawn Cemetry in Los Angeles shortly before dawn. The Cemetery will hold a private service for Michael Jackson’s family at 8am.

  • The world's media awaits the arrival of Michael Jackson's fans at the Staples Centre.

  • Jesse Jackson, a close friend of the Jackson family, chats to the media outside the Staples Centre.

  • Teddy Riley, singer and producer, arrives at the Staples Center for Michael Jackson’s memorial.

  • The Staples Center in Los Angeles awaits the start of Michael Jackson's public memorial.

  • Michael Jackson's fans leave tributes outside the Staples Center.

  • Michael Jackson's fans leave tributes outside the Staples Center.

  • Michael Jackson's fans leave tributes outside the Staples Center.

  • Los Angeles police await fans' arrival at the Staples Center.

  • A police officer stands in front of a tribute wall to the King of Pop.

  • Lucky Michael Jackson fans with tickets to the star's memorial arrive at the Staples Center.

  • Lucky Michael Jackson fans with tickets to the star's memorial arrive at the Staples Center.

  • Lucky Michael Jackson fans with tickets to the star's memorial arrive at the Staples Center.

  • Lucky Michael Jackson fans with tickets to the star's memorial arrive at the Staples Center.

  • Lucky Michael Jackson fans with tickets to the star's memorial arrive at the Staples Center.

  • Lucky Michael Jackson fans with tickets to the star's memorial arrive at the Staples Center.

  • Motorcade takes Jackson family to private memorial service at Forest Lawn.

  • Motorcade takes Jackson family to private memorial service at Forest Lawn.

  • Michael Jackson's hearse outside Forest Lawn.

  • Michael Jackson's father, Joseph, leaves Forest Lawn Cemetery on route to Staples Center.

  • Michael Jackson's coffin leaves Forest Lawn Cemetery.

  • Michael Jackson's coffin leaves Forest Lawn Cemetery.

  • Kim Kardashian arrives at the Staples Center.

  • Akon arrives at the Staples Center.

  • Boxer Mike Tyson arrives at the Staples Center.

  • Larry King arrives at the Staples Center.

  • Smokey Robinson reads out tribute letters to Michael Jackson from Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela. Neither attended the ceremony in Los Angeles.

  • Michael Jackson's brothers bring his coffin into the Staples Center.

  • Mariah Carey performs at Michael Jackson's public memorial concert.

  • Mariah Carey performs at Michael Jackson's public memorial concert.

  • Queen Latifah speaks about Michael Jackson.

  • Motown founder Berry Gordy pays tribute to Michael Jackson at the Staples Center.

  • Jennifer Hudson performs at Michael Jackson memorial.

  • Usher performs at Michael Jackson memorial.

  • Shaheen Jarfargohli performs at Michael Jackson memorial.

  • Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, pays emotional tribute to her father.

  • Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, pays emotional tribute to her father.

  • Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine performs 'Smile' at memorial service.

  • Brooke Shields pays tribute to Michael Jackson.

  • Brooke Shields joins Jackson family after paying tribute to Michael Jackson.

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Photo: WENN.com