"It wasn't going to be a regular BET awards," said executive producer of the show, Stephen Hill. "We knew we had to do our best to honor [him]." Hill stated that both Janet and Joe Jackson decided to attend the ceremony after hearing about of the tribute.
R&B group New Edition reunited for a special performance of Jackson 5 songs, including 'I Want You Back,' and 'ABC.' The crowd jumped to its feet as Ronnie Bell, Michael Bivins, Ricky DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, and Bobby Brown kicked off the show.
Host, Jamie Foxx, donned his 'Thriller' inspired red leather jacket, black pants and white sox. Among his performances was a heart-wrenching rendition of Jackson's 'I'll Be There,' alongside singer/songwriter Ne-Yo. Although usually wearing a fedora, Ne-Yo went "topless" for his performances, even singing his favorite Jackson song 'Lady in My Life.'
Singer Ciara paid homage to Jackson with a performance of 'Heal the World.' Rocking a black leather jacket adorned with gold tassels, similar to one one Jackson's trends, the 23-year-old noted that despite never meeting her idol face to face, she still felt close to him. "He's always inspired me," she told The BoomBox.
BET Chairman Debra Lee showed her adoration for Jackson, stating that he was "often imitated but never duplicated." Lee also paid her respects to Jackson's father who was in the audience in honor of his son. "It's truly been a labor of love for us because Michael Jackson is so important to our world, to our country and to our network."
The night's most emotional moment was when Janet courageously took to the stage to speak of her brother. "My entire family wanted to be here tonight but it was just to painful so they elected me to speak with all of you" Jackson said after taking a few moments to maintain her composer. "I'm going to keep it very short. I just like to say: to you Michael is an icon. To us Michael is family, and he will forever live in all of our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself thank you for all of your love thank you for all of your support. We miss him so much. Thank you so much."
Joe did not speak during the show, but spoke to the press after the show. "I think if Mike was here, he would enjoy the celebration," Joe told the media. "He's larger than he ever was before. Since this tragedy has happened, I would like him to be remembered forever all over the world."
Despite the somber mood, the ceremony turned celebratory honoring Jackson's many musical accomplishments while pictures of the superstar throughout his career served as the show's backdrop.
The 50-year-old superstar died of an apparent cardiac arrest last Thursday. Jackson is survived by three children, Michael Jackson Jr., Paris and Prince Michael II.