After a brief introduction by Jermaine Jackson, Brown danced to a medley of the King of Pop's hits -- "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Remember the Time," "Billie Jean," "Smooth Criminal," "Heal the World," and "Man in the Mirror." For "Billie Jean," Brown donned Jackson's signature loafers and sequined glove and performed the moonwalk to the delight of the audience.
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When it was time to sing "Man in the Mirror," however, Brown broke down and cried, unable to sing lyrics that could easily be read in the context of his own troubles since assaulting Rihanna in 2009. The audience chimed in as Brown paced the stage and eventually collapsed to the ground, sobbing.
Brown's Michael Jackson tribute helped mark the one-year anniversary of the superstar's passing and followed last year's quickly assembled BET awards tribute, which did not include the young singer who had so often cited him as a pivotal influence on his career. At the time, Brown expressed his frustration over the omission -- which many speculated was due to the assault -- telling Vibe magazine, "It was wack...they were so bent on not getting me there that they messed up their own show."
One year later, Brown and the BET Awards appear to have made amends. In addition to his Jackson tribute, Brown also won the night's Fandemonium award, given to the artist with the most active online fanbase.