Messages from Mandela, Diana Ross open Jackson memorial


June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 7, 2009 at 3:12 PM EDT

A memorial for Michael Jackson started Tuesday with the reading of messages of condolences from former South African president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, and singer Diana Ross.

Jackson, who died on June 25 aged 50, had met with Mandela on several occasions on trips to Africa, and was very close to Ross, even naming her as a back-up guardian for his children.

"Michael was a giant and a legend in the music industry. And we mourn with the millions of fans worldwide," read the message from Mandela.

"We had great admiration for his talent and that he was able to triumph over tragedy on so many occasions in his life.

"My wife and I, our family, our friends, send you our condolences during this time of mourning. Be strong, Nelson Mandela."

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