Don Lemon Makes Emotional TV Return After Sister's Death

"I am back sitting with you tonight, because this is exactly where she would have wanted me to be," the 'CNN Tonight' host told viewers of his sibling, who unexpectedly died last week.

Don Lemon made an emotional return to CNN Tonight Tuesday after tragically losing his sister in an accident last week.

“I am back sitting with you tonight, because this is exactly where she would have wanted me to be,” Lemon said to viewers. The host’s sister, L’Tanya “Leisa” Lemon Grimes unexpectedly died after falling into a neighbor’s pond in Louisiana last Wednesday. Lemon took a brief leave of absence following the sad news of his 58-year-old sister's death. 

“Leisa was so proud of me. All she wanted for Christmas this past year was a new CNN Tonight T-shirt. She had washed the letters off the old one that I gave her just a few years ago and that’s all she wanted,” Lemon said.

Prior to beginning the night’s show, Lemon took a moment to express his gratitude for those who have reached out and sent their well-wishes including CNN colleague Anderson Cooper, NBC’s Megyn Kelly, Wendy Williams and Fox News host Sean Hannity, who is known as one of his professional rivals. 

“There’s so much conflict happening right now, I think it’s important for all Americans to know that, something like this, when it happens, it tends to bring out the best in 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 don’t. So, I’m going to thank you for your kindness.”

Lemon grew visibly emotional when thanking CNN president Jeff Zucker. “I will never forget that you wouldn’t leave my office. You wouldn’t go home until I got in a car and on a plane,” Lemon shared, while wiping away tears. Lemon also thanked his boyfriend, Tim Malone, whom he referred to as “the love of my life.” Lemon revealed that Malone “got on a plane without asking” and sat in his mother’s driveway for two hours after learning of the news.   

To end his speech, Lemon thanked his late sister, who, he said, was “watching from heaven.”