Rihanna still has a soft spot for Chris Brown -- or at least gets a little weepy over the hole he left in her life after he beat her in the face the night before the Grammys in February 2009.
"I lost my best friend," she told Oprah Winfrey tearfully in an interview to air Sunday night on OWN. "Everything I knew switched in a night, and I couldn't control that."
The fallout was hard to process, she said, continuing in choked-up tones.
"It became a circus and I felt protective. I felt like, the only person they hate right now is him. It was a weird, confusing space to be in. 'Cause as angry as I was, angry and hurt and betrayed, I just felt like he made that mistake because he needed help, and who's going to help him?
"Nobody's going to say he needs help. Everybody's going to say he's a monster, without looking at the source.
"I was more concerned about him."
Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault in June 2009 and has been serving five years' probation since then. He's gotten nothing but good marks while on probation, and the two have since collaborated on two songs.