Jackson family patriarch Joe Jackson was in attendance, stating that despite his immense grieving it was important to witness and celebrate his sons achievements.
The original New Edition lineup kicked off the show with a medley of Jackson 5 hits, including I Want You Back and The Love You Save.
Host Jamie Foxx presented through the night in various MJ outfits from signature videos, such as Beat It.
Foxx even completed the famous Smooth Criminal lean before kicking off the show.
The multi-talented entertainer also took time to address the importance of Michael Jackson being honored first in the African-American community.
No need to be sad. We want to celebrate this black man, Foxx stated to the crowd. He belongs to us, [and] we shared him with everyone. Down in New Orleans, when someone dies it becomes a celebration.
Lil Wayne reiterated that point after receiving the award for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist.
None of us would be here without Mike, he stated. Best Male R&B Artist winner NeYo delivered an exceptional musical tribute in his rendering of Lady In My Life.
The talented crooner and songwriter was able to effortlessly replicate Jacksons notable falsetto for one of the nights highlight performances.
Later, the singer took the crowd down memory lane by brining out three of the most popular New Jack Swing acts of the late 80s and early 90s.
Keith Sweat kicked things off with his Top 5 Billboard single I Want Her.
Second was New Jack Swing pioneers Guy, who with keyboard guitar in tow delivered an inspired rendition of I Like.
Closing the set with their marked Hip-Hop edge was Bell Biv DeVoe, who performed their biggest hit Poison.
NeYo joined in their dance routine, and handled the songs memorable bridge to close out the set.
The night also had several humorous moments, with Oscar-nominee Taraji P. Henson, Ving Rhames, and Tyrese reprising their characters from Baby Boy.
Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence also delivered a faux trailer (Stank Robbers) for a Thelma and Louise-inspired movie with their 90s characters Wanda and Sheneneh.
Beyonce took home Best Female Artist and Video of the Year (Single Ladies), and showcased a dramatic offering of Ave Maria.
With stained glass props and a resplendent, see-through wedding dress, the superstar songstress interpolated lyrics from Sarah McLahlans In the Arms of An Angel.
In her acceptance speech, an emotional Beyonce dedicated her award to MJ, referring to the King of Pop as her teacher and hero.
The seminal OJays were also honored with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their 50 plus years in the music industry.
Younger acts Tevin Campbell (Forever Mine) and a surprisingly powerful singing trio of Tyrese, Trey Songz, and Johnny Gill had no issues handling the groups classic material (Backstabbers, Darling, Darling Baby, and Stairway to Heaven).
The OJays later took the stage, but not before imparting some very important wisdom for all the younger acts in attendance.
Its great to have a hit record, but its more important to have a hit act, they stated.
During their set, the veteran group blessed the audience with flawless dance steps and renditions of Let Me Make Love to You, For the Love of Money, and Use ta Be My Girl.
For their philanthropy work regarding disadvantaged children and outreach in Haiti, Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean received Humanitarian Awards.
He (Michael Jackson) has truly inspired me to use music in a way that serves the world, stated Keys.
A visibly shaken Janet Jackson made a surprise last-minute appearance to address the crowd and make an official statement for her family.
My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was too painful, explained Janet while fighting back tears. To you, Michael is an icon. To us, he is family and will forever live in our hearts. We miss him so much. Thank you for all of your love and support.
The night was closed with NeYo and Jamie Foxx performing a soulful offering of Michael Jacksons Ill Be There.
Additional performances throughout the night featured Soulja Boy (Turn my Swag on), Maxwell (Pretty Wings), Jay-Z (Death of Autotune), Keri Hilson (Turnin Me On), Keyshia Cole/Monica (Trust), Drake (Best I Ever Had, Every Girl), and Mary Mary (God In Me).
A full list of the award winners is available at www.bet.com.