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BET Awards become the Chris Brown show

By Alan Duke, CNN
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Chris Brown wins 4 BET Awards
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Patti LaBelle lifetime achievement tribute rocks the auditorium
  • Chris Brown wins 4 BET trophies and sings twice Sunday
  • Brown's BET triumph comes 2 years after assault conviction
  • A teleprompter mix up gives awkward reminder of Rihanna assault

Los Angeles (CNN) -- A mix up between a computer tablet and a teleprompter during Sunday's BET Awards created an awkward moment that reminded viewers of Chris Brown's domestic violence conviction on a night that otherwise was Brown's triumph.

The 2011 BET Awards paid nostalgic and emotional tributes to several fallen stars and the living Patti LaBelle, but embattled hip hop singer Chris Brown dominated Sunday night's show.

Brown, who admitted guilt two years ago to the brutal assault of ex-girlfriend Rihanna, won four trophies and performed twice during the telecast from Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium.

Brown broke down in tears on the same stage during the BET Awards a year ago while performing a tribute to Michael Jackson.

Ironically, Rihanna was mistakenly announced as the winner of the Coca-Cola Viewers Choice Award near the end of Sunday's telecast. BET later clarified that Brown was the "viewers choice," not Rihanna.

Tiffany Green, a fan from Flat Rock, Michigan, was chosen to read the winner's name from a Sprint Evo tablet. Green first called Brown's name, but then squinted at the teleprompter before confidently announcing that Rihanna had won.

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"Well, that was awkward," singer Drake said as he accepted the award for Rihanna, who was not present.

Stephen Hill, BET's programming president, took blame backstage for what he called "a human error."

Brown's name was correctly on the tablet in Green's hand, but the show producers put the wrong name -- Rihanna's -- on the teleprompter, Hill said.

Photos of Green's stunned expression quickly became an Internet sensation. She tweeted that she was weeping backstage.

Rihanna was honored earlier with the best female R&B artist award.

When the dust settled, Brown had won for best male R&B Artist, video of the year, best collaboration, and the viewer's choice award.

Not only did BET let Brown perform a medley of his songs, but he later took the stage with rapper Big Sean.

When Brown made a post-show appearance in the backstage media room, he refused to answer questions. Instead, he laid down on the stage with two trophies, posing with a big smile.

"I didn't get to thank God for this," Brown later tweeted. "He has taught me a lesson in life. and I appreciate everything! Thank you!"

Brown was sentenced to five years probation and 180 days of community service after he entered a guilty plea in June 2009 to assaulting Rihanna while they were in a car the night before the 2009 Grammy Awards. The judge later praised Brown "for taking responsibility" by completing his probation requirements.

The BET show delivered more than the current auto-tuned hip-hop hits, opening with the natural voices of Mary J. Blige and 1980s songstress Anita Baker singing a duet.

"After 30 years, this isn't supposed to happen," an overwhelmed Baker said backstage.

The auditorium rumbled during a musical tribute to Patti LaBelle, who was given a lifetime achievement award. Gladys Knight, Cee Lo Green and Marsha Ambrosius serenaded LaBelle before gospel legend Shirley Caesar brought her to tears.

Finally, LaBelle reminded the audience that she is still going strong after five decades in the music business by singing two of her classics -- "Love, Need and Want You" and "Lady Marmalade."

Alicia Keys premiered a new song, "Typewriter," before singing a medley of her hits, including "Falling."

Five artist who died since last year's show were honored with a memorial segment, including Cali Swag District member M-Bone, who was killed in a drive-by shooting last month. The three surviving group members performed a tribute.

E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, R&B singer-songwriter Teena Marie, poet-musician Gil Scott Heron and hip-hop legend Nate Dogg were remembered by performances and appearances by Doug E. Fresh, Queen Latifah, Ledisi, Scott Mayo, Snoop Dogg and Warren G.

In a nod to younger fans, Justin Bieber delivered a scripted on-stage proposition to Nicki Minaj, the winner for best female hip hop artist. "I'm all grown up now. I turn 18 next year so, what's up?" Bieber said to Minaj.

BET voters were stuck on which of Will and Jada Smith's two children deserved the Young Star award, so Jaden and Willow Smith were both honored.

After comedian Steve Harvey accepted a BET humanitarian award, he told reporters backstage that he was giving up stand up comedy. "I don't want to be telling jokes at 60," said Harvey, 54. He's focusing his career now on being a motivational speaker, he said.

 
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