Ray J: The Man In Whitney Houston’s Life

Billy Johnson, Jr.
Hip-Hop Media Training (NEW)

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R&B singer and reality star Ray J, 31, has always denied any romantic link to Whitney Houston, the superstar pop singer who was found dead Saturday in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. She was 48, 17 years his senior.

There is no denying the two had a special bond.

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Romance rumors began circulating in 2007 when the "I Will Always Love You" singer ended her 14-year marriage to R&B bad boy Bobby Brown. A year later, they were photographed enjoying dinner at Beverly Hills hot spot Mastro's and spotted at the Bernard Hopkins-verses-Joe Calzaghe fight in Las Vegas. Around that time, Ray J (the younger brother of R&B singer Brandy) told People magazine: "We like singing, music, movies. We just watched 'The Pursuit Of Happyness.'"

When grilled about his relationship, Ray J coyly told "The Insider" last week that it was "hush hush."

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"We've always tried to keep our relationship as private as we could, but when we go out she's such an icon it reaches the masses," he said. "But for the most part, we've just been friends and we've always just kept things hush hush and just quiet and we don't focus on that."

Ray J was among the people who were with Houston during her final days. During a club outing last Thursday in L.A., The Hollywood Reporter claimed that he helped diffuse a spat that Houston had with former "X Factor" contestant Stacy Francis.

Though he has yet to comment on Houston's death, Ray J (who famously dated Kim Kardashian) is surely among the many mourning her loss. According to the Los Angeles Times, he was seen with three friends pacing through the Beverly Hills hotel Sunday morning repeatedly muttering, "Whitney dead."