“He was able to separate.” Their families had been close for some time.Brandy, a breakout singing sensation of the 1990s (“I Wanna Be Down”), grew up worshiping Houston.

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Ray J—William Ray Norwood Jr.—grew up with aspirations of becoming a minister, but settled on a career as a child actor when he was cast in The Sinbad Show at 12.

He tried to distinguish himself from his sister, but continually fell in her shadow.

One of his most prominent roles was as a supporting character in Brandy’s TV series Moesha.

“Initially, he was always labeled as Brandy’s little brother,” says a source who knows Ray J well.

“Whitney told me she had known Ray since he was 10 years old,” Francis tells The Daily Beast. I think we should all respect that.” Francis wouldn’t discuss what happened that night, but she says Ray J is a pal of hers and they never dated.

Despite his reputation as a ladies’ man, Ray J still charmed Houston. He’s the 31-year-old star of VH1’s For the Love of Ray J, a dating show that was a cross between The Bachelor and Flavor of Love.

According to friends, they had been casually seeing each other since her split with Bobby Brown in 2007. Houston didn’t mind the R & B singer canoodling with a houseful of women, because Ray J claimed it was just for the cameras.

“Ray was grounded in what was entertainment and what was reality,” says a source.

“That was a pain in his you know what.” But he was able to set himself apart with a different kind of reputation.