Jussie Smollett strikes emotional chord: Attackers won't win

Jussie Smollett was blunt, emotional and defiantly determined Saturday night at a Southern California concert some urged him not to play, telling the crowd before singing a note that he had to go on with the show because he couldn't let his attackers win.

The "Empire" actor and R&B singer from the stage at the Troubadour in West Hollywood said "the most important thing I can say is 'thank you so much, and I'm OK." This was his first public appearance since he reported to police in Chicago on Tuesday that two masked men had assaulted him and put a rope around his neck while using homophobic and racial slurs.

Smollett, who is black and openly gay said "I'm not fully healed yet, but I'm going to be, and I'm gonna stand strong with y'all."

The concert had been planned long before the incident, and his family members and others had urged him to postpone it.

But Smollett said he couldn't do that.

Smollett kept the tone mostly celebratory through his hour-long set before addressing the attack head-on toward the end of his hour-long set, when he told the crowd he wanted to clarify a few things.

He said he was bruised but his ribs weren’t cracked. He went straight to the doctor but wasn’t hospitalized, and physicians in both Chicago and Los Angeles cleared him to play but told him to be careful.

Dawn Kamber