Whitney Houston's purported on-and-off boyfriend Ray J has released a statement addressing the loss of his "close friend" and the "emptiness" he feels following the icon's death.
"Over the past few days I've tried to process the emptiness that I am experiencing," Ray J's statement reads. "What my heart feels cannot be expressed in words. The world lost an icon, but I lost my close friend. Nippy, I miss you so much! You were so happy and full of love. Your smile will live in my heart forever."
Ray J is on the star-studded guest list for the Saturday funeral at Newark's New Hope Baptist Church, the New Jersey church that launched Houston's career.
Questions about Houston's a relationship with Ray J, Kim Kardashian's ex-boyfriend and sex tape partner, resurfaced recently after the two were spotted having dinner in Los Angeles.
The two were seen leaving the L. A. restaurant Le Petit Four on Feb. 3. They were linked as early as 2010, following Houston's 2007 divorce from Bobby Brown.
Ray J is notorious for his relationship with Kardashian, which led to his own reality TV romance show, "For the Love of Ray J." He is also the brother of singer Brandy, who played Cinderella to Houston's fairy godmother in the television remake of the classic fairy tale.
Ray J, 31, was reportedly turned away from Whitney Houston's hotel room when he rushed to the Beverly Hilton Hotel after learning of her death.
Ray J was at home when he learned Houston had been found dead in her hotel room bathtub, and he immediately went to the hotel to try to see her, TMZ reports. He was reportedly turned away by law enforcement and not allowed in the room.
Sources told TMZ that Ray J was "crushed" by Houston's death.
Houston's daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and cousin Dionne Warwick were both also reportedly turned away from the hotel room when they tried to get in to see Houston.
Ian Drew, a senior editor at Us Weekly, told ABCNews.com that Ray J and Houston had dated on and off for several years.
"He was her big eyebrow-raising relationship after Bobby [Brown]," Drew said.
Ray J appeared on "The Insider" on Feb. 10 to promote his new advice book, "Death of the Cheating Man." In the interview, he was repeatedly pressed for information about his relationship with Houston.
"You know, they blow this thing out of proportion. I mean, that's my friend. I've been knowing her for years and years and years, and she's a friend of the family," he said on the show. "I have a lot of love for her, and I have a lot of respect for her."
Ray J remained coy when pressed on whether his relationship with Houston, 48, was more than platonic.
"Our friendship is something that people might not understand, maybe because of the age difference, but we've always just been friends," Ray J said. "We hug, we laugh, we go out to dinner. ... We talk about, you know, different things in our lives and she's a cool person."
When asked directly if his relationship with Houston was physical, he again deflected.
"We've always kept our relationship as private as we could, but when we go out, she's such an icon, it reaches the masses," Ray J said. "But, for the most part, we've always been friends and we've kept everything hush-hush and just quiet and we really don't focus on that."
Houston had seen Ray J as recently as the night of Feb. 9 , when both attended Grammy nominee Kelly Price's party, "Kelly Price and Friends Unplugged: For the Love of R&B Grammy Party," at the Los Angeles nightclub Tru Hollywood.