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    Ray J to Whitney Houston: "I Miss You So Much...Your Smile Will Live in My Heart Forever"

    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.

    RELATED: Whitney's Funeral Won't Be Like Michael Jackson's

    "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."

    MORE: Whitney's 20 Greatest Highs & Lows

    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.

    PHOTOS: Whitney Houston—A Life

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