The 2016 MTV Awards honored the legacy of Will Smith by presenting him with the Generation Award – “a lifetime achievement award and a thank you to stars in the film industry whose work has changed the game and opened the door for those coming behind them.”
Commencing the tribute, The Lonely Island took to the stage performing a medley of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song, Men In Black and “Jiggy”—honoring both Smith’s comedy career and hip-hop roots. He was welcomed to the stage by Queen Latifah and Halle Berry, who both thanked him for opening doors as the first hip-hop artist and highlighted Smith’s work for diversity in Hollywood.
True to form, Will Smith was all jokes in accepting his award. “When I first heard that MTV wanted to give me the Generation Award, I thought that was code for the ‘Old Ass Dude Award’,” he said as the crowd laughed.
He told anecdotes about being on set, shooting in Brooklyn and not being recognized by an eight-year old until he introduced himself as “the Karate Kid’s dad.”
“He was like, ‘Oh, that’s Jaden’s dad! That’s Jaden’s dad!” Smith recounts.
“I mean, The Lonely Island said it, parents just don’t understand, and I’m sitting with my kids sometimes like, I don’t get it!” he jokes.
“I released my first record when I was 17, and this June marks thirty years in the business for me. I really just want to say that I’m humbled and I just want all of you to know that I’m dedicated to being a light in this world…. I’m dedicated, until I die, to light and to love. Thank you all.”
We congratulate you, Mr. Smith!
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