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Whitney Houston, Ray J

Denise Truscello/WireImage

On the eve of her funeral, those closest to Whitney Houston are overwrought with emotion.

In the past few hours, ex-husband Bobby Brown and godmother Aretha Franklin have choked up talking about Houston, who died last Saturday at 48.

Now, it's Ray J's turn.

"Over the past few days I've tried to process the emptimess that I am experiencing," the actor-musician and brother of Brandy Norwood said in a statement Friday morning.

"The world lost an icon but I lost a close friend. Nippy, I miss you so much! You were so happy and full of love. Your smile will live in my heart forever."

While he never confirmed he was romantically involved with Houston—an earlier statement last weekend would only say they "maintained a close relationship"—Ray J was her frequent companion in the weeks before her death, spotted out and about together in Los Angeles clubs.

Both Ray J and Brandy are expected to be at Houston's funeral service in Newark, N.J., on Saturday.