LOS ANGELES — From New Edition's scorching Jackson 5 nod opening the show to host Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo's closing number, [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson's[/artist] legacy was well represented at the 2009 BET Awards. But most of the stars in attendance at the Shrine Auditorium were in awe of Janet Jackson's touching words expressing her family's grief.
"It was very, very strong; it was very courageous of her," [artist id="1801883"]Ciara[/artist], who also paid tribute to MJ in song during the night, told MTV News about Janet's speech. "That's what it's about, being strong for your family and being strong, period. Unfortunately, this was unexpected, and you just kind of step up to the plate. I think it was great. They seemed to have a good relationship growing up. ... I'm sure they both used to have each other's back when they needed to. It was beautiful."
[artist id="2514735"]Lil Mama[/artist], [artist id="2990927"]Wale[/artist], [artist id="3000709"]Teyana Taylor[/artist] and [movieperson id="233349"]Gabrielle Union[/movieperson] were among the many that echoed Ciara's sentiments about Janet's appearance.
"I was even crying," Taylor said of Janet's brief speech. "I looked up to him. He's the reason why I dress the way I dress today."
Lil Mama, whose mother passed away in 2007, said she identified with Janet's emotions during her appearance on the show. "It was very emotional," she said. "I couldn't imagine losing my babies. My brother's here with me tonight. We already lost our mother. To lose a brother, to lose any family member, it hurts. Right then at that moment, I knew it's really happening. Mike is gone."
While the shock of Jackson's sudden death left many in dismay over the news, "From G's to Gents" host Fonzworth Bentley said Janet's appearance gave everyone a chance to let out some emotions.
"It was a bittersweet show," Bentley told MTV News from the red carpet of the SRC/BET afterparty. "I think I got a chance to get a lot of emotion out. Janet Jackson is one of my favorite artists, period, and to see her literally raise the hair on the back of everyone's neck, what courage. What that says to give of herself and not go into seclusion — [she was saying], 'I know you wanna hear from us, I know you wanna see us, so I'ma come.' And it's a very important awards show, and Michael would have shown up. He did before. It was just an amazing experience."
[artist id="503203"]Alicia Keys[/artist] said that sitting in the audience, she felt a wave of goodwill throughout the night from those in attendance who were shouting, yelling or doing whatever else they had to do to express their feelings about Jackson.
"There is no way this should have happened without saluting Michael Jackson," Keys said. "This is his foundation. We all grew up on him. He's loved all over the world. You can feel a very high energy here. This show is really genuine and beautiful."
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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