Just three days after the sudden passing of Michael Jackson, the BET Awards kicked off in Los Angeles, and during the two-hour red carpet extravaganza, artists and celebrities paid tribute to the fallen icon.
To begin the show, "106 & Park" hosts Terrence and Rocsi declared that the entire night would be a tribute to the life and legacy of MJ. "Trust me, Michael Jackson, we are gonna make you proud, baby boy!" said Rocsi.
"I mourn his death, but celebrate his life. That's what we're gonna do tonight," said Ne-Yo during an interview.
Ray J was effusive in his praise of the King of Pop. "The best ever," he said. "The best to do it. The best icon. I'm inspired right now. I just want to go do some Michael dances right now!"
He then proceeded to do his best MJ imitation before laughing that he couldn't even dance.
Standing next to him, Mario also gave the singer much reverence. "I've always respected him as a vocalist," he said. "I think he left a great legacy for my generation and the generation after us to follow."
Arsenio Hall, a close friend of Jackson's, took to the outdoor stage to share memories of the singer. "The only thing we need to know about him is that he was the King of Pop," said Hall. "I'm honored to call him a friend and a colleague. The bottom line is that people don't give us their lives, they give us their art."
After LeToya Luckett's live performance of "Not Anymore," she spoke of the devastation she felt after hearing of Jackson's death. "I almost felt like I lost a family member," she said. "He inspired me to be a musician, just through his music and watching his videos. I just have a heavy heart about it."
Amerie named her favorite MJ songs — "Billie Jean," "Rock with You" — and admitted that she's still struggling with the idea that Jackson is gone. "It was really hard to believe, and I'm still kind of in a daze about it."
It wasn't just with words that artists saluted Jackson. Sean Paul wore a single, shiny glove in a tribute to one of Jackson's iconic looks, and Ryan Leslie rocked a black-and-gold military-esque jacket in a nod to another of Jackson's signature looks.
Pleasure P dedicated his performance of "Boyfriend #2" to MJ and revealed that he sang Jackson's songs as a child. "He inspired me to be the artist I am today," he said.
In addition to the heartfelt tributes during the two-hour event, the red-carpet show was punctuated by other live performances from Hurricane Chris ("Halle Berry [She's Fine]"), Kid Cudi ("Day 'N' Nite"), the New Boyz ("You're a Jerk"), Dorrough ("Walk That Walk"), Jeremih ("Birthday Sex") and Day26 ("Imma Put It On Her").
MTV will be paying tribute to MJ throughout the weekend with music videos, exclusive performances and calls and tweets from celebrity admirers and friends. For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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