"The King of Pop is not big enough for him. I think he's simply the greatest entertainer who's ever lived."
These words from Motown Records founder Berry Gordy received a sustained standing ovation, summing up the feelings of everyone who attended the memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles today.
The service was a who's-who of the music world, featuring performances by Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer, Usher, and Stevie Wonder, saying it was "a moment I wished I didn't live to see coming." Jermaine Jackson sang while wearing his brother's trademark white sequined glove.
With Jackson's flower-draped casket on stage, the proceedings started off with another Motown legend, Smokey Robinson, reading tributes from two of Jackson's friends who could not attend -- Diana Ross and Nelson Mandela. Queen Latifah read a poem that Maya Angelou wrote in honor of Jackson.
Rev. Al Sharpton, who first met Jackson in 1970, said Jackson paved the way for such black celebrities as Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, and even President Obama. And he said to Jackson's 3 children:
"There was nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what he had to deal with."
An emotional Brooke Shields reflected back on their shared experiences of being child stars. She said their friendship may have seemed odd to outsiders, but it wasn't to them. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee said a resolution will be introduced on the House floor to honor Jackson as "an American legend, a musical icon, and a world humanitarian."
Proving Jackson transcended the music scene, NBA stars Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson also made tributes. Bryant pointed out all of the charity work Jackson did. Johnson, a longtime friend of the Jackson family, told the story of eating a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken on the floor with Jackson during a meeting about a music video, calling it "the greatest moment of my life."
But it was Berry Gordy's story -- also told by Smokey Robinson -- that brought down the house. Gordy gave Jackson one of Robinson's songs to record, and when Robinson heard it, he couldn't believe Jackson was just 10 years old. Berry said he sang it better than Robinson. And Robinson couldn't disagree.
The memorial ended with an elaborate performance of "We Are the World" that Jackson created for the London concerts that, sadly, will never be held.
And then Jackson's family gathered on stage, where two of his brothers spoke. And then his daughter, through tears, said he was the greatest father and "I love you."