Foxx leads Jackson salute at BET event

Host attempts moonwalk in memory of singer

More Michael Jackson coverage

The BET Awards kicked off on Sunday night with a musical tribute to Michael Jackson in which host Jamie Foxx did Jackson's famous moonwalk and sung his hit song "Beat It" in a classic King of Pop costume -- red leather jacket and one white glove.

Oscar-winning actor and singer Foxx told the packed house in Los Angeles' Shrine Auditorium the awards program would honor Jackson, the music star who died suddenly last Thursday after suffering cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles home.

"We're going to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us, and we shared him with everybody else," Foxx told the crowd.

"I'm going to moonwalk tonight -- going to moonwalk from here, all the way to there, for Michael Jackson," Foxx said, pointing across the stage.

He then performed the backwards shuffle dance step that Jackson made famous, but Foxx didn't even come close to mastering the move. In fact, he tripped.

The awards given annually by the BET television network honor the best African American singers, actors, actresses and athletes. This year's show was revamped at the last minute due to Jackson's death, and many early performers and winners dedicated their awards to Jackson and his family.

"He is one of our heroes. As African Americans, we are not going to let everybody beat him up," music mogul and rapper Sean "Diddy" Combs said of Jackson ahead of the show.

Family patriarch Joe Jackson told the CNN television network outside the show that there were still "a lot of concerns about what happened" in final hours of son's life.

But inside the Shrine, the show focused on glorifying Jackson's life. In fact, Foxx noted that as in New Orleans, where people celebrated a person's life after his or her death, the BET Awards audience would be encouraged to party.

Early winners included Day 26 for best music group, basketball star LeBron James for best athlete, and Lil Wayne for best male hip hop artist.