CNNs Don Lemon returned to the anchor desk Tuesday night on the verge of tears as he thanked dozens of people who helped him through the tragic death of his sister, Lisa.
The CNN Tonight host took a leave of absence after his older sister, LTanya (Leisa) Lemon Grimes, fell into a pond in Louisiana last week and drowned.
I am back, sitting with you tonight, because this is exactly where she would have wanted me to be, Lemon told viewers. Lisa was so proud of me.
The 51-year-old anchors voice trembled as he recalled her wanting a brand new CNN Tonight Tshirt for Christmas because the letters on her old one had since faded away.
He then spent nearly three minutes paying tribute to the outpour of prayers and words of encouragement from fans, politicians and broadcast rivals that helped him get through his mournful week.
Fox News commentator Sean Hannity was among those who reached out to share their condolences, Lemon said.
Theres so much conflict happening. I think its important for all Americans to know it tends to bring the best out of people. Even some of my competitors and people I have raging arguments with on television, Lemon said. You think we hate each other, but we dont.
He said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu sent good wishes.
Lemon named fellow CNN broadcasters Chris Cuomo, Jon Berman and Anderson Cooper, nothing that he too had lost a sibling. Coopers brother Carter took his own life in 1988.
He continued even as his voice cracked from emotion. He thanked CNN President Jeff Zucker for refusing to leave his side as he rushed to Louisiana.
You dont know how much this meant to me, Jeff Zucker. I will never forget that you wouldnt leave my office. You wouldnt go home until I got home and on a plane, Lemon cried.
And finally, Lemon acknowledged boyfriend Tim Malone.
Tim, the love of my life, who got on a plane without asking and sat in my moms driveway for two hours.
I love you, Lemon said, before reading the news.