Janet Jackson opened the Video Music Awards tribute to Aaliyah telling the audience Thursday, “I was speaking with Aaliyah shortly after her grandmother passed away. We talked about how much she loved her and how much she missed her grandmother. And as I listened to Aaliyah, I was very touched by her sincerity, by her strength, and by her love.”
“In this time of our lives, I draw upon her example of faith that one day we will be together again. Aaliyah once wrote these words about her grandmother: ‘Like the sun, you gave us softness and warmth. Like the moon you will remain a light that will continue to shine down upon us.’ We we feel the same about Aaliyah and we will always love you.
“There have been thousands upon thousands of letters written by fans all over the world about Aaliyah, how she touched their lives. And I’d like to read one now. Aaliyah gave more to us in her 22 years than most will ever contribute in a lifetime. It’s one thing to recognize your gift, but it’s an extraordinary blessing to share your talent with the world. Aaliyah gave so much to so many and for one I will not be sad or mourn her death but celebrate her life and be thankful for the gifts that touched so many. We haven’t lost anyone. We’ve only gained an angel. That is so true. That was from Kay from Georgia.”
After accidently reading beyond her portion on the cue-card, the tribute was Ginuwine, who told the crowd, “We’re here today to pay tribute to one of the funniest, loveliest most down-to-earth people that we know. Aaliyah was deeply loved and will be so deeply missed. I think I speak to all of us standing here when i say she was definitely one in a million.”
Timbaland added, “Aaliyah was a temple of excitement, joy and peace. To me, she was my little sister, my musical inspiration … your music will always live on through me. To all the fans in the world, Aaliyah was a temple, excitement, joy and peace. To me she was my little sister, my music inspiration. Aaliyah will never be forgotten. Your music will always live on through me.”
A visibily upset Missy Elliot added, “To the world and to her fans Aaliyah was known as Aaliyah, but to us, her extended family, she was known as baby girl. We got to learn to appreciate each other while we’re here on earth and never take for granted that somebody will be here tomorrow. And we’re going to keep Aaliyah legacy alive. I didn’t write anything, I just felt like I had to come from the heart. And I love you, Aaliyah, and you’re forever missed.”
Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad Haughton, wrapped up the tribute saying, “The last time I stood on this stage, I was with my sister Aaliyah after she won the Video Music Award for Best Female Video. She graciously thanked everyone for supporting and acknowledging the work that was her love and dream come true.
“On behalf of my family, I want to thank her friends and adoring fans who supported her throughout her career. Those in the music, television and film industry for the flowers, cards and wishes of condolence that have sustained us. We must keep in our hearts those we lost with her, Eric Foreman, Keith Wallace, Christopher, Gina and Doug Kratz. With every breath like it’s the last, every blink, the freeze frame of a precious moment, with every touch to record how we once were human, we are destined to be something more.
“Aaliyah, you have fulfilled that destiny. And in her own words I quote “from the bottom of my heart to the depths of my soul I am truly happy” and we are all happy to have been given a gift like you Aaliyah.We love you. I love you.”
A video clip of Aaliyah was played from her MTV Diary special where she said, “I can honestly say that everything is worth it. The hard work, the time we’re tired, the times when you’re a bit sad. The good moments when you’re on stage performing in front of thousands of people.
“In the end, it’s all worth it because it really makes me happy. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. I honestly wouldn’t. There’s nothing better than loving what you do. I’ve got good friends. I’ve got beautiful family and I’ve got a career. A career that’s blossoming and still growing and I am truly blessed, and I thank god for his blessings every single chance I get.”