The biggest names in music attended the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Jimmy Fallon on Aug. 29, 2002 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
As always, the evening featured several show-stopping performances, a few special tributes — including one to late TLC member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died tragically in a car accident the previous April — and the debut solo performance of 'N SYNC member Justin Timberlake.
Also in attendance were several celebrities who are, sadly, no longer with us today, including Hollywood actors Heath Ledger, Brittany Murphy and James Gandolfini and music superstar Michael Jackson.
Ahead of this year’s MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, let’s jump back in time 20 years to see the show’s biggest moments.
“Saturday Night Live” funnyman Jimmy Fallon was just 16 years old when he emceed the 2002 VMAs. OK, so the future “Tonight Show” host was actually about to turn 28, but look at that baby face!
Britney Spears walked the red carpet in a tough biker look featuring an edgy black leather minidress, lace-up stilettos, and a leather cap. The “I’m a Slave 4 U” singer was on hand to present Michael Jackson with a special statue in honor of his 44th birthday.
Spears’ ex Justin Timberlake, dressed an awful lot like the King of Pop in a fedora, gloves and black leather pants, performed solo for the first time at the 2002 VMAs. The former 'N SYNC member debuted his hit “Like I Love You.”
Jackson accepted the birthday statue from Spears mistakenly believing it was an “Artist of the Millennium Award” because of a comment Spears made in her introduction. The “Beat It” singer gave a speech about his childhood in Indiana and his musical heroes and inspirations. The audience inside Radio City Music Hall gave Jackson a standing ovation.
In August 2002, Jennifer Lopez was dating "Gigli" co-star Ben Affleck for the first time, although the couple went their separate ways in 2004. While Bennifer’s love story ultimately worked out — with the pair tying the knot nearly two decades later — we’re not sure we can say the same about the ruffly naughty-lawyer look J.Lo wore to the ceremony.
Kelly Clarkson was less than a week away from becoming the first “American Idol” champion when she arrived at the 2002 VMAs. The future superstar presented an award to punky “Sk8er Boi” singer Avril Lavigne.
No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani, still two years away from releasing her debut solo album, wore a wacky outfit that combined a studded leather skirt, a white tank top, a camouflage scarf and a Rastafarian-inspired wristband.
Hollywood actors Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson, who starred together in the 2002 film "The Four Feathers," made a pretty pair when they introduced Latin pop star Shakira's live performance. "She dances her a-- off," Ledger told viewers. Sadly, the Australian actor died in 2008 at age 28 of an accidental drug overdose.
Hi-swiveling Colombian pop star Shakira thrilled audience members when she performed her hit song “Objection (Tango).”
Pink arrived with her main squeeze, motocross pro Carey Hart, whom she would go on to marry in 2006. The couple are now the parents of two children: daughter Willow, born in 2011, and son Jameson, born in 2016.
Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker attended the ceremony with his then-girlfriend, former Miss USA Shanna Moakler. The on-off couple tied the knot in 2004 and divorced in 2008. Barker went on to marry reality star and businesswoman Kourtney Kardashian in 2002.
TLC members Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, left, and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins held hands while paying a tearful tribute to their late bandmate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who died in a car accident at age 30 while on vacation in Honduras four months prior.
Former “Full House” stars Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were there to present the Breakthrough Video award to the White Stripes for their “Fell In Love with a Girl” video.
The Olsen twins weren’t the only sister at the 2002 VMAs. Paris Hilton, right, and her younger sister, Nicky Hilton, also attended the ceremony. The following year, Paris Hilton would make her mark in reality TV by starring with her childhood pal Nicole Ritchie in the Fox series “The Simple Life.”
Axl Rose put together a new lineup of his hard rock band Guns N’ Roses to perform three of the band’s hit songs during the ceremony.
Singer and actor Brandy, wearing a low-cut fringe gold dress and strappy knee-high stilettos, introduced Justin Timberlake's debut solo performance.
"8 Mile" star Brittany Murphy, wearing all denim, and Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis presented the night's MTV2 award to Dashboard Confessional. Murphy died tragically in December 2009 at age 32 of untreated pneumonia with contributing factors of anemia and drug intoxication from prescription and over-the-counter medications.
"What a Girl Wants" singer Christina Aguilera, in a denim miniskirt and barely-there top, presented the Best Male Video award to rapper Eminem for "Without Me."
Singer Enrique Iglesias and tennis pro Anna Kournikova, who began a romance the year before, kept it casual at the ceremony. Iglesias wore jeans and a knitted skull cap while Kournikova showed off her torso in a white midriff shirt. The super private couple went on to welcome three children together: twins Lucy and Nicholas, born in December 2017, and daughter Mary, born in January 2020.
"Sopranos" star James Gandolfini, right with cigar, stood onstage next to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, known to rock lovers everywhere as "Little Steven." The three-time Emmy winner introduced the band, who performed Springsteen's single "The Rising." In 2013, Gandolfini died of a heart attack at age 51.
Mary J Blige showed up to the ceremony with a bleached short haircut, wearing a full-length leather dress. The powerhouse singer picked up an award for Best R&B Video for her "No More Drama" video.
Former “Sabrina the Teenage Witch" star Melissa Joan Hart strutted the red carpet in a daring all-black ensemble.