Chris Brown in Jackson tribute
It was a night of comebacks at the BET Awards, and none more unexpected than Chris Brown performing an emotional tribute to Michael Jackson.
The embattled pop star has mostly kept a low profile since pleading guilty to assault for beating up Rihanna in February 2009.
But there he was, centre stage, mimicking Jackson's signature dance moves with almost eerie accuracy. Introduced by Jermaine Jackson, Brown embodied the King of Pop, wearing his fedora and spangled glove and moonwalking across the stage to Billie Jean.
Then, as Brown grabbed a microphone to sing Man In The Mirror, he broke down in tears. His voice cracked, he could not sing, and at one point he crumpled to the stage in apparent agony.
It was a moving moment made even more so by the song's lyrics and Brown's recent past.
The ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium began with a comeback: Kanye West opened the show atop a volcano on-stage in his first TV appearance since dissing Taylor Swift at last year's MTV Video Music Awards.
T.I. also made a triumphant return to television in his first TV performance since being released from prison in December. Backed by Travis Barker on drums, T.I. performed Yeah Ya Know, and later returned to the stage to sing Hello, Good Morning with Diddy-Dirty Money, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj, who won for female hip-hop artist.
El DeBarge also made a comeback, his falsetto undiminished, performing hits I Like It, Time Will Reveal and Rhythm of the Night.
Host Queen Latifah was also musical, first singing to famous members of the audience, then returning to her rap roots and rhyming about the royalty in the audience: herself and Prince, who was to receive BET's lifetime achievement award.
The BET Awards honour the year's best in music, sports and film in 19 categories.