Exonerated 5, formerly Central Park 5, bring crowd to their feet at BET Awards

LOS ANGELES — The BET Awards kicked off Sunday night at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles, honoring African American stars of television, movies and music, but the surprise guests of the night had nothing to do with entertainment.

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The men, introduced as the Exonerated Five, formerly the so-called Central Park Five, appeared on stage to a standing ovation from the star-studded audience.

Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam, Kevin Richardson, Raymond Santana and Antron McCray were there to introduce Grammy Award-winning singer H.E.R.

Their lives and what happened when they were wrongly convicted and later exonerated of raping a Central Park jogger in 1989 was the subject of the recent Netflix series "When They See Us."

The award show, which included performances by some of the best and the brightest in movies and TV, also included a posthumous humanitarian award for rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was shot and killed near his Los Angeles clothing store in late March.

Singer Mary J. Blige received this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award and movie mogul Tyler Perry received BET’s Ultimate Icon Award.