VMAs Kick Off With Madonna And Janet’s Tribute To Michael Jackson

Janet and dancers re-create classic MJ video routines after Madonna's speech.

Sunday night’s 2009 MTV Video Music Awards got off to a glittering start thanks to the first family of the VMAs: the Jacksons. Janet Jackson helped lead a tribute to brother Michael, who died in June at the age of 50. And while the tribute to Jackson was previously announced, it opened with a huge surprise: a moving, nearly eight-minute speech by Madonna, who fondly recalled her first private meeting with Michael.

Walking onto the darkened stage wearing a conservative black jacket and skirt, a solemn Madonna told the crowd, “Michael Jackson was born in August 1958. So was I. Michael Jackson grew up in the suburbs of the Midwest. So did I. Michael Jackson had eight brothers and sisters. So do I. When Michael Jackson was 6, he became a superstar and was perhaps the world’s most beloved child. When I was 6, my mother died. I think he got the shorter end of the stick.

The 2009 MTV Video Music Awards are live now! Stay tuned for the night’s big winners, red-carpet coverage, behind-the-scenes updates and more.