The R&B star performed a medley of the late singer's biggest hits but started to choke during the lyrics of 'Man In The Mirror'.
Brown struggled to sing through his tears and his emotional pain was clear for everyone at the ceremony, which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, to see.
The 'Crawl' singer - who did not attend the event last year in the wake of his assault of ex-girlfriend Rihanna - picked up the Fandemonium Award, and upon collecting his prize he said: "I let you all down before, but I won't do it again. I promise you."
Before taking to the stage, the 21-year-old star wrote on his twitter page: "BE NERVOUS FOR ME... im sh***in a brick right now!!!!! (sic)"
Following his performance, a host of stars took to twitter to congratulate him.
Kim Kardashian wrote: "Wow @ChrisBrown did such an amazing MJ tribute. (sic)"
While singer Sean Kingston wrote: "WOW Chris Brown Congrats Bro, U KILLED THAT GREAT JOB MY brother. (sic)"
Other winners on the night included Alicia Keys, who was named Best Female R&B Artist, Mo'Nique, who took home the prize for Best Actress, and Drake, who received the award for Best Male Hip-Hop Artist.
BET Awards winners full list of winners:
Best Female R&B Artist: Alicia Keys
Best Male R&B Artist: Trey Songz
Best Female Hip-Hop Artist: Nicki Minaj
Best Male Hip-Hop Artist: Drake
Best New Artist: Nicki Minaj
Best Gospel: Marvin Sapp
Best Group: Young Money
Best Collaboration: Jay-Z and Alicia Keys - 'Empire State of Mind'
Video of the Year: Beyonce Knowles (featuring Lady GaGa) - 'Video Phone'
Best Actress: Mo'Nique
Best Actor: Idris Elba
Best Movie: 'Precious: Based on the Novel PUSH by Sapphire'
Youngstars Award: Keke Palmer
Subway Sportswoman of the Year: Serena Williams
Subway Sportsman of the Year: LeBron James
Viewer's Choice: Rihanna (featuring Young Jeezy) - 'Hard'
Best International Act: Dizzee Rascal (UK)
Centric Award: Monica
Fandemonium Award: Chris Brown
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