Singer Chris Brown makes a comeback at the BET Awards, taking home a total of four prizes.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES (JUNE 26, 2011) - Chris Brown was the big winner at the 2011 BET Awards ceremony Sunday (June 26), taking home four awards including the Male R&B Artist and the Viewers' Choice Award.
Brown also took the award for Best Collaboration, a category where he had two nominations and was competing against ex-girlfriend Rihanna, whom Brown admitted assaulting after a pre-Grammy Award party in Los Angeles in 2009.
The 11th annual celebration of black musicians, actors and sports people was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles and was hosted by actor and comedian Kevin Hart.
In an unfortunate turn, Brown was announced as the winner of the viewers' choice award, and then Rihanna. Canadian rapper Drake awkwardly appeared on stage at the Shrine Auditorium to accept on her behalf. At the end of the show, however, it was revealed that Brown was the rightful winner even though Rihanna's name was on the teleprompter.
Brown's music career stalled after he pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in February 2009, setting off a national debate on young, abusive relationships.
He publicly apologized, underwent court-ordered domestic violence counseling, and spent six months performing community service. Earlier this year he topped the U.S. pop album chart, a sign that his career was back on track.
"I know it's been a long road, so I just appreciate every blessing that's been in front of me," said Brown, dressed casually in white T-shirt, denim shorts and a silver kerchief.
Brown's other awards included best male R&B artist and best video, and he shared BET's best collaboration prize with Busta Rhymes and Lil Wayne, who spent most of 2010 behind bars on a weapons charge.
Nikki Minaj, who won the best female hip hop artist prize, paid tribute to Lil Wayne, who joined her onstage.
"This man right here, last year when I won, he was on Rikers Island, and so when I say I can't believe I won, I can't believe for the first time, I get to share a moment like this with a person who saw me rapping on a staircase, do you understand? Lil Wayne, I love you," says Minaj.
In a decision that averted a family feud, singer/actors Willow and Jaden Smith shared the Young Star award, while their father Will Smith looked on with tears welling in his eyes. Willow, who had a novelty hit last year with "Whip My Hair," thanked her parents for "letting us push harder and keeping us on track with our music and stuff."
Patti Labelle had to quiet a fan down in the audience who cheered her on during her acceptance speech for the lifetime achievement award.
"Hey Philly. Oh up there, hey Philly. OK sit down. Sit down because I got a minute to speak. I love you. And thank you to you, who you call my fans, but I call you my friends, for so many years just standing by me. My friends have been with me for more than 35 years," said Labelle, who was given the award by longtime friend and singer Gladys Knight.
In an awkward turn of events, Rihanna was mistakenly named the winner of the viewer's choice award by a contest-winning fan, Tiffany Green, who first named Brown as the winner, prompting the rapper Drake, who accepted the award on Rihanna's behalf, to say "Well this is awkward."
It wasn't until later on in the show that host Kevin Hart had to clear up the confusion, announcing Brown as the real winner of the prize.