By Florence Anthony
ABOVE PHOTO: Vanessa and Kobe Bryant.
After the world saw him touch Whitney Houston’s gold casket as pallbearers carried it down the aisle and collapsing in tears, Ray J has finally released a statement about his on-and-off girlfriend. The two were seen out together twice during the week that lead up to her untimely death in a bath tub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Said Ray J: “Over the past few days I’ve tried to process the emptiness that I am experiencing. 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.”
Despite leg spasms preventing her from attending Whitney Houston’s funeral earlier in the day, following her concert at Radio City Music Hall, Aretha Franklin was feeling well enough to entertain 40 of her friends at the Ritz Carlton Hotel on Central Park South. A source says the Queen of Soul, sporting a curly blond hairstyle, arrived on the arm of her on-again, off-again fiance William Wilkerson. The group dined on steak and shrimp, and it looked like everyone was having a great time.
Toni Braxton was the belle of the ball during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York City. Looking sheek in a chinchilla jacket and black Louboutin stilettos, the “Braxton Family Values” star attended the Chadwick Bell Fall show. She was also spotted at Cynthia Rowley’s show at Barry Diller’s IAC Building wearing a short-sleeved duster trimmed in fox over a black dress with black leather elbow-length gloves.
While the rumor mill is ripe with stories that Rihanna and Chris Brown are set to team up to do a duet on a remix of the Barbadian beauty’s “Birthday Cake,” sources say her management has reportedly urged the singer to stay away from Brown. “Her management doesn’t want Rihanna’s career to suffer. She seems to be out almost every night and people fear it’s no coincidence that she and Chris have turned up at the same venue more than once,” a source told Closer magazine. The source continued that Rihanna seems to feel a connection to Chris, even though he has a girlfriend.”
Kobe Bryant’s wife, Vanessa and her children were in New York City this past weekend looking for apartments. Real Estate sources tell TMZ that Vanessa hasn’t said whether she’s packing up and moving from Cali, but she definitely wants to buy a place in the Big Apple. Sources say she could be moving because she feels Lakers fans as well as wives of Kobe’s teammates don’t like her. However, Kobe supposedly wants her back and doesn’t want his daughters living all the way across the country from him.