After looking back on Blige’s introduction on the scene with a "brand new vibe forever aligning the worlds of hip hop and R&B," Rihanna emphasized the multi-hyphenate's proven success across multiple fields of artistic expression.
"And then there are the awards and the accolades, and making history as the first person ever nominated for an Oscar in an acting and music category in the same year," Rihanna told the audience, which did indeed include Blige. "Happy Mary, Sad Mary, No More Drama Mary, Dancing Mary—we're here for all of it. Mary J. Blige, you have set the bar for relatable, timeless, classic music. You opened multiple doors for female artists in this industry, and on behalf of all the women who came after you like myself, thank you for being you so we could feel comfortable being ourselves."
In her acceptance speech, Blige thanked Rihanna and many others, noting that a lifetime of achievement requires a lifetime of support from friends and family. "Mommy, I love you and I wanna thank you for your love and understanding and for being able to see all the things I couldn't see," Blige said, also thanking her father, with whom her relationship has "healed."
Nas, Diddy, Queen Latifah, and Jada Pinkett-Smith also shared words on Blige's impact. Additionally, Blige took the stage to perform "Real Love" and more for the Los Angeles audience. See clips of that below.
For more on this year's BET Awards ceremony, click here.