The 2019 BET Awards paid tribute to Nipsey Hussle by honoring the late rapper with its Humanitarian Award and a star-studded musical tribute. Heading into the ceremony, the stars walked a blue carpet in his memory.
Near the end of Sunday night’s nearly four-hour show at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, rapper T.I. introduced Hussle’s family. The slain rapper’s fiancée, actress Lauren London, his parents, and his grandmother accepted the Humanitarian Award on Hussle’s behalf.
“The Marathon Continues,” London said, making reference to the title of Hussle’s 2011 mixtape.
With tears in her eyes, Hussle’s mother, Angelique Smith, who referred to him by his birth name, Ermias Asghedom, recalled visiting the scene in South Los Angeles, outside her son’s Marathon Clothing store where he was fatally shot on March 31.
She said she asked a police officer at the crime scene what happened and he said, “Someone was shot.” She continued: “Who? I asked. ‘Nipsey Hussle,'” he said. “My spirit said, ‘oh, oh. that’s it.'”
Smith went on to describe the location where her son lost his life, saying: “It was peaceful.”
“Thank you for your prayers and for your love,” she added, while Hussle’s father, Dawit Asghedom, thanked BET for the award.
“I wish my son could be here,” he said. “Thank you BET. He wanted to be here so badly, and last year he made it to perform here and we were so happy for him. And you recognize him and we appreciate that.”
He concluded by raising a fist in the air and saying, “The Marathon Continues.” Watch the video above.
Afterwards, T.I. introduced R&B singer Marsha Ambrosius — who also performed at Hussle’s April memorial service at Staples Center. Following Ambrosius’ performance, DJ Khaled, YG, and John Legend took the stage. They closed out the medley with the recently released single, “Higher,” which Legend and Khaled collaborated on with Hussle. You can watch video of the performance and more tributes from the ceremony below.
Even before the show started, BET remembered Hussle by featuring a blue carpet outside the venue in honor of the rapper, philanthropist and community activist, who was known to wear the color blue on stage.
“Our red carpet is actually blue,” BET Awards pre-show host Terrence J. said on-air. “We did the entire carpet blue in honor of our fallen brother, Nipsey Hussle.”
Other highlights of the evening included Tyler Perry receiving the Ultimate Icon Award, and Mary J. Blige picking up BET’s Lifetime Achievement honor. The R&B legend had attendees dancing in the aisles, when she performed a medley of her hits.