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CNN's Don Lemon makes emotional return following death of sister

CNN’s Don Lemon returned to his "CNN Tonight" anchor desk on Tuesday night, fighting back tears as he thanked those who helped him following the death of his older sister.

L'Tanya Lemon Grimes drowned after accidentally falling into a pond near Baton Rouge, La., on Jan. 31. She was 58.

Lemon, 51, took a leave of absence and returned Tuesday night.

“I am back sitting with you tonight because this is exactly where she would have wanted me to be,” Lemon told his "CNN Tonight" viewers. “Lisa was so proud of me.”

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Lemon acknowledged those who reached out to him after the news broke, including Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy, NBC's Megyn Kelly, Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (D-N.J.) and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D), among others.

“There’s so much conflict happening. I think it’s important for all Americans to know it tends to bring the best out of 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.”

The anchor and host also acknowledged his CNN colleagues, including his prime-time lead-in, anchor Anderson Cooper, who has also lost a sibling. Cooper's younger brother, Carter Anderson, died in 1988 at the age of 23.

Lemon, who has been with CNN since 2006, also thanked CNN president Jeff Zucker for his support.

“You don’t know how much this meant to me, Jeff Zucker. I will never forget that you wouldn’t leave my office. You wouldn’t go home until I got home and on a plane,” an emotional Lemon said.

Lemon also expressed gratitude to his boyfriend, Tim Malone.

“Tim, the love of my life, who got on a plane without asking and sat in my mom’s driveway for two hours," Lemon said.

“I love you,” he added.

Lemon joined CNN in 2006 and has seen his role at the network grow over the years, including being named host of "CNN Tonight" in 2014.