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Nicki Minaj honors Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson in VMAs acceptance speech

The rapper received the Video Vanguard Award at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night.
2022 MTV VMAs – Show
Nicki Minaj performs onstage at the 2022 MTV VMAs.Jeff Kravitz / Getty Images for MTV/Paramount G
/ Source: TODAY

Nicki Minaj was one of the main attractions for Sunday night's VMAs, receiving what is arguably the night's biggest honor, the Video Vanguard Award.

Starting with David Bowie in 1984, MTV’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award has gone to musical visionaries like Madonna, Janet Jackson, The Rolling Stones, George Michael and Britney Spears.

Minaj's VMAs appearance began with an explosive medley of her hits, including "Super Bass," "Beez In the Trap," "Roman's Revenge" and "Moment 4 Life."

The performance was followed by a video montage of testimonials from her fans. Known as the Barbz, Minaj's loyal fanbase take their love for the rapper seriously, as the testimonials demonstrate.

A few Barbz took to the stage to actually hand the Moonman award to Minaj. Once at the microphone, Minaj stumbled, revealing she had not brought her phone, which contained her speech, to the stage.

After the relatable hiccup, Minaj collected herself to deliver an emotional and powerful speech, which recognized those who came before her and individuals who are important to her.

2022 MTV VMAs – Show
Nicki Minaj at the VMAs.Johnny Nunez / Getty Images for MTV/Paramount G

Minaj made a special point to thank many of the people who helped her get where she is today. “I wrote people who gave me huge opportunities that I’ll never forget: Kanye West, Beyonce, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Eminem, Britney Spears, Rihanna. Thank you for everything.”

Fans noted that Minaj thanked Carey, with whom she was in a rumored feud during their stint hosting "American Idol" in 2012.

Minaj also referenced musical talents no longer with us — specifically, Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, for whom the award is named.

"I don’t know why y’all but this was in my spirit to say. I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here. I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish people took mental health seriously even for the people who you think have the perfect lives," she said.

She next listed Pop Smoke, Juice WRLD, Nipsey Hussle, a cousin, her manager and father, all people in her life who recently passed.

Minaj made sure to also honor her newest role in the world: momma bear. She sent love to her son, whom she lovingly refers to as Papa Bear.

2022 MTV VMAs – Show
Nicki Minaj performs onstage at the 2022 MTV VMAs.John Shearer / Getty Images for MTV