"She was a good mother to not only just her four sons but to so many people around the world," he said through tears.
The host was close with the late singer, who died at the age of 76 on Thursday, and even exchanged text messages with the music titan. Immediately after the news broke, he was audibly distraught as he called into CNN to talk about the legend.
"I'm sorry, Poppy. I just woke up and got the news. I'm so sorry. I didn't expect to have this reaction," he told host Poppy Harlow through tears. "It's sad and for the past couple of days, people have been going to see her and reaching out to her. You know, there was information that I knew that I couldn't really say because the family did not want that out."
"You know, for the last couple of days, it has not been good. Truly, we lost a legend. And a good person," he continued. "She said that she wanted to be known as a good mother, but she was a good mother to not only just her four sons but to so many people around the world, like me."
"She would just text me out of the blue and say, 'I saw something you did on CNN and I'm so proud of you,'" added Lemon, his voice cracking. "You are doing such a great job. To think that that won't happen anymore is just really awful."
Being a "child of the '60s," Lemon said Franklin's music was "the soundtrack to my childhood."
"There is no voice and no one ever that will be like her. Some people have a gift that there's music in their voice. But they just open their mouths and the song just drops out. And that is — that was Aretha Franklin," he went on. "She was unmatched."
Lemon was also quick to point out that "There was no autotune for Aretha Franklin, she didn't need that," before noting how hard it was to refer to her in the past tense now.
"I know what she would say. She would say, 'I want you to be strong, Don. I want you to be the voice. So I'm going to put on my best self and I'm going to be there to represent Aretha Franklin,'" he added. "We should all celebrate her, her very wonderful, wonderful, wonderful life. She was an amazing person."
There are certainly a ton of people in Hollywood celebrating her legacy today, as musicians, actors and actresses all took to social media to pay tribute to the late, great Aretha. See what Elton John, Diana Ross and more wrote in the link below.