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The BET Awards were established in 2001 by the Black Entertainment Television cable network. What distinguishes this show from other awards shows is that it includes many entertainment and philanthropic categories that celebrate African American culture. Artists and other minorities in music, sports, acting and many other fields over the prior year are honored.

The awards show is broadcast live on BET, with presenters such as actor, comedian and singer, Jamie Foxx and Samuel L. Jackson. Prior show hosts have included: comedians and actors, Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer; comedienne and actress, Mo'Nique; actors, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith; comedians and actors, Damon Wayans and DL Hughley; veteran rapper, writer, actress and producer, Queen Latifah; and actor and comedian, Kevin Hart.

The award sculpture was designed by Carlos Mare Rodriguez, a Hip Hop culture icon. The inaugural ceremony was held in 2001 at Las Vegas' Paris resort. The Kodak Theater in Hollywood hosted the event from 2002 to 2005. Since then, the awards have been held at the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium. Next year, the BET Awards plans to relocate to the Nokia Theatre at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles.

The main categories of the BET Awards include Best: Hip-Hop Artists, Gospel Artist, R and B Artists, Group, New Artist, Collaboration, Music Video, Video of the Year, Viewer's Choice, Centric Award, Actor and Actress, Movie and Athlete of the Year.

One of the most important features of the show is The BET Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Awards. Nominees are announced ahead of time in a special press conference. The awards ceremony features a short documentary that covers each honoree's life. Each award is given out separately.

The BET Lifetime Achievement Award goes to a legendary artist or group who has made a very notable contribution to the entertainment industry. A tribute is paid by current singers, all of whom perform each honoree's most popular songs. The honoree also performs after the tribute has concluded. Recipients of this award have included: Whitney Houston, Earth Wind and Fire, James Brown, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Diana Ross, Al Green, The O'Jays, Prince, Patti Labelle and Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly.

The BET Humanitarian Award category was created in 2002, which debuted at the second annual show. The Humanitarian Award goes to celebrity philanthropists who donate their resources to charitable causes. Recipients have included: Muhammad Ali, Earvin Magic Johnson, Danny Glover, Denzel and Pauletta Washington, Harry Belafonte, Don Cheadle, Quincy Jones, Alicia Keys and Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Steve Harvey and Rev. Al Sharpton.

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1 Season, 14 Episodes - Special Event
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BET Awards Full Episode Guide

  • Chris Rock hosts the 2014 BET Awards with special performances by Pharrell Williams, Usher, Drake and Lil Wayne.

  • Chris Tucker hosts the 2013 BET Awards with special performances by Nicki Minaj, Ciara, Mariah Carey, Justin Timberlake, and Chris Brown.

  • Samuel L. Jackson hosts the 2012 BET Awards Live with special performances including Nicki Minaj, Usher, and Chris Brown.

  • Kevin Hart hosts the 2011 BET Awards Live at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. Performances by Alicia Keys, Jill Scott, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Beyone and more will light the stage.

BET Awards News

Watch Jay-Z Pull an 'Imma Let You Finish' on Kanye at the BET Awards

You may remember, a few years back at the MTV Video Music Awards, how Kanye West interrupted poor Taylor Swift, sparking a popular Internet meme as well as a pretty good episode of "South Park." Well, vengeance comes eventually, even if it might be a little late. At the BET Awards Sunday night, Jay-Z and Kanye West won an award or two for their efforts on "Watch the Throne," the collaboration album the two rap titans put out. The two took the stage, and Jay-Z said his thank yous first before handing the microphone over to Kanye.

Chris Brown Wins Big at BET Awards, Unlucky Fan Tiffany Green Gets Caught Up in Ugly On-Air Screw-up (VIDEO)

The BET Awards were all about forgiveness this year, as convicted woman-beater and alleged homophobe Chris Brown cleaned house, and dog-fighting ex-con Michael Vick was honored as well. Brown picked up awards for Best Male R&B Artist, Viewer’s Choice, Fandemonium Award and Best Collaboration. The multi-talented R&B performer was convicted on domestic abuse charges in 2009 for beating his then-girlfriend Rihanna, and has recently been facing heat for using gay slurs towards reporters during a recent incident.

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