Two days after the news of his death first broke, host Palmer opened the ceremony by acknowledging the "devastating loss" of the "Black Panther" star, who passed away on Friday, August 28 following a secret four-year battle with colon cancer.
Recognizing the 43-year-old as a "true inspiration to all the fans he touched and everyone he encountered," she added, "We dedicate the night's show to a man whose spirit touched so many. He's a true hero, not just onscreen, but in everything he did. His impact lives forever."
Palmer also took a moment at early on in the show to express support for the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racial injustice, and call on music fans to stand united to "continue to fight to end systemic racism."
"It's our time to be the change we wanna see...," she declared, as she officially got the VMAs underway in New York City.
Meanwhile, BTS (Bangtan Boys) were already double winners heading into the main event after picking up a pair of honors during the pre-show - Best Group and Best K-Pop prize for "On", and rap-rocker Machine Gun Kelly was also celebrating early as he took home Best Alternative for his "Bloody Valentine" video, starring his new girlfriend, actress Megan Fox.