With the 2023 BET Awards just days away, The Root thought it would be a perfect time to look back at the iconic moments that fans of BET are still talking about. We’re talking jaw-dropping performances, emotional tributes, and incredible speeches. We have it all.
Whitney Houston’s Lifetime Achievement Award
At the first BET Awards show ever in 2001, Whitney Houston was honored with the channel’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award.
Michael Jackson presents James Brown with an award
From one legend to another. There’s no way we couldn’t include this iconic moment between music legends at the 2003 BET Awards.
50 Cent shoots his shot
This was a fun light-hearted moment between celebrities. 50 Cent was a rising star in the hip-hop world and he had zero hesitation when shooting his shot with Vivica A. Fox. I respect it, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
Beyoncé makes her solo debut
After being the star of Destiny’s Child for years, Beyoncé decided to do her own thing. She officially introduced herself as a solo artist at the 2003 BET Awards performing her now classic record, “Crazy In Love.”
The Fugees hadn’t been seen together on stage in nearly a decade, so it was a pleasure to see the trio back again at the 2005 BET Awards. While I don’t remember if Lauryn Hill was on time or not, it still was a great performance.
Destiny’s Child makes their return
The members of Destiny’s Child reunited at the 2005 BET Awards putting on a show fans will never forget. Just watch it and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Hov and Queen Bey put on a show together
Hov and Queen Bey came out together at the 2006 BET Awards, cementing the pair as a power couple in the music industry.
Janet Jackson honors the passing of her brother
Just months after her brother passed, Janet Jackson had the strength to honor the life and career of her brother at the 2009 BET Awards.
D’Angelo shows out
D’Angelo stole the show at the 2012 BET Awards, serenading every woman in attendance and at home.
Rihanna previews “Bitch Better Have My Money”
Rihanna throwing money at a random man before going on stage is an iconic moment in itself.
Tribute to Prince
Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder and many other talented artists put on incredible performances to honor the life and legacy of prince, who died in April 2016.
Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar shut it down
It’s unfortunate that it’s hard to find a clear video of this breathtaking performance, but if you had a chance to see it live, you’ll remember the incredible show K. Dot and Queen Bey put on at the 2016 BET Awards.
Jesse Williams’ inspiring speech
Jesse Williams has always been a civil activist who stands up for injustice. That was never more clear than after he accepted an award at the 2016 BET Awards
Megan Thee Stallion does her thing
Even though everyone was at home watching on their TVs, Megan still put on an incredible show in the middle of the dessert. It solidified her as a force to be reckoned with in the hip-hop world.