BET believes in giving artists their flowers while they’re still here to enjoy them. They gave lifetime achievement awards to Whitney Houston and Prince in 2001 and 2010, respectively — and good thing too, because both artists died not too many years later (in 2012 and 2016, respectively).
They also seem to like to give lifetime achievement awards to artists who haven’t gotten that level of recognition elsewhere. Sean “Diddy” Combs, who will receive the honor at the 2022 BET Awards on June 26, has yet to win a Grammy lifetime achievement award, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a Kennedy Center Honor, to cite three of the most prestigious lifetime career awards.
Combs will be the 21st artist to receive a BET lifetime achievement award. Only one of the previous recipients, Smokey Robinson, had received all three of those other awards by the time he got the BET honor. Two – James Brown and Al Green – had received two of the three. Six had received just one of the other awards. Twelve, including each of the last six recipients, hadn’t received any of them.
There is some evidence that receiving a BET lifetime achievement award helps to shine a light on R&B legends, who then go on to receive these other awards. Earth, Wind & Fire and Diana Ross had each just received one of those three other accolades – induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – at the time of their BET Award. They have now received all three.
Lionel Richie hadn’t received any of the other three awards when he got the call from BET. Since receiving the BET Award, he has received two of the others.
The most surprising name on the roster of BET’s lifetime achievement award winners is actor Samuel L. Jackson, who won the award in 2016. The BET Awards have categories for films and acting in addition to music, so his choice wasn’t totally out of left-field. Also, that was a good year to honor a non-musician because the BET Awards had five separate performance segments in memory of Prince, who had died a little more than two months earlier (on April 21, 2016). What music star would want to have his lifetime achievement award segment compete with a flurry of salutes to Prince?
Hosted by Taraji P. Henson for the second year in a row, BET Awards will air live Sunday, June 26, on BET at 8 p.m. ET/PT from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
Here’s a look at each of the 21 recipients of BET’s lifetime achievement award, followed by when (if at all) they received these three other honors.