Michael Jackson's nephew T.J. broke down in tears in court on Thursday (27Jun13) as he opened up about the late King of Pop, describing the star as his "mentor" following the tragic death of his mother in 1994.
T.J. Jackson, son of Michael's brother Tito, testified in Los Angeles as part of the ongoing wrongful death trial against bosses at concert promoters AEG Live, and explained that he agreed to step up and become a co-guardian of the singer's three children because of the close relationship he had shared with his uncle.
The former 3T singer revealed the superstar had given him extra guidance as he struggled to come to terms with the drowning murder of his mum, DeDe Jackson, and he felt compelled to do the same for his young cousins, Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket, after the Thriller hitmaker's unexpected passing in 2009.
He acknowledged the troubles 15-year-old Paris has faced since the huge loss, although he stopped short of specifically mentioning her apparent suicide attempt which landed her in hospital earlier this month (Jun13).
He told the court that he was working hard to help the embattled teen, but confessed, "It's tough. She was daddy's girl. My uncle was her world."
Calling Paris the "princess" of the King of Pop's world, he added, "Paris has a heart of gold. I just think the loss of my uncle has hit her at a different level. She's in a tough spot, but we're all loving her and doing everything we can to get her where she should be."
The defence lawyers then aired a music video 3T had recorded with the pop icon, after which Jackson said, "He was just everything", before being overcome with emotion.
During the testimony, Jackson also touched on the paparazzi attention his three charges attract and claimed, "In my opinion, I know it's making everything harder for the kids to grieve and recover and progress."
He also used the opportunity to voice his support for actress Halle Berry and her efforts to ban snappers from taking pictures of stars' kids, saying, "I think it's awful what they get away with."
T.J. Jackson's testimony came a day after Prince Michael took the stand in the wrongful death case.
Jackson matriarch Katherine and the singer's three children are suing AEG Live chiefs amid allegations they were responsible for hiring Dr. Conrad Murray, who is serving time on involuntary manslaughter charges for administering the drug overdose which killed the King of Pop, and ignoring key signs the superstar was seriously ill prior to his passing in 2009.