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Thousands come out in Chicago to honor the late comedian

August 16, 2008 03:55 PM

Thousands of mourners came out for a Chicago memorial service honoring Bernie Mac Saturday.

Some fans slept outside overnight in hopes of securing a seat inside the House of Hope church on the city’s South Side, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Chris Rock, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer and Rev. Jesse Jackson attended the emotional service, in which photos from the comedian’s career were shown on projectors and the White Sox organization presented Mac’s widow Rhonda with a No. 1 jersey bearing his name, the paper reports.

Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama and Andy Garcia also sent condolences.

During the service, Mayor Richard Daley remembered Mac as someone with “a heart and passion.” Daley, who met with Mac a few weeks ago, added: “He knew the street, he knew the people, and that’s why he was a king of comedy. He wanted to do something personally to get children away from the life of violence. . . . He never lost his soul in Chicago.”

Mac, who suffered from the autoimmune disease sarcoidosis, passed away last Saturday from complications relating to pneumonia.

Of their final exchange a day before his death, Rhonda told PEOPLE: “I said, ‘Hey Bernard. How are you?’ and I kissed his forehead. He shrugged his shoulders, like ‘I’m tired’ and I said, ‘I know you’re tired.’ Later on that night, it took a turn for the worse.”

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