The annual Teen Choice Awards is a fun, lighthearted ceremony that celebrates the talent of Hollywood's young and rising stars, but the mood turned somber Sunday night when tearful "Glee" star Lea Michele took the stage to accept her award weeks after the overdose death of her co-star and boyfriend, Cory Monteith.
No one apparently expected Michele, 26, to accept her Teen Choice TV Actress in a Comedy award in person so soon after Monteith's death, and the audience at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Los Angeles was visibly moved by her emotional acceptance speech.
"Thank you guys, thank you. I just wanted to be here today to personally thank all of you and tell everyone out there how much all of your love and support has meant to me over these very past difficult few weeks," she said, her voice shaking.
With her cast mates close by, she dedicated the award to Monteith, saying that he was special to her and to the world.
"For all of you out there who loved and admired Cory as much as I did, I promise that with your love, we're going to get through this together. … So whether you knew him personally or just as Finn Hudson, Cory reached out to us and he became a part of all of our hearts and that's where he'll stay forever. So thank you guys, so much. Thank you," she said.
Monteith was found dead in his room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel in Vancouver, British Columbia, July 13 after he failed to check out on time.
He died of mixed drug toxicity involving heroin and alcohol. He was 31.
"Glee" also won the Choice TV Comedy award, although Michele did not appear on stage with the cast.
"Lea didn't walk the red carpet," Sophie Schillaci of The Hollywood Reporter said. "She didn't do any media coverage beforehand so nobody knew that she was there."
Even without Michele by their side, the other stars of the show took time to also pay tribute to Monteith.
"We just want to say although … we lost someone that we really love, and that all of you guys loved, too, we are very fortunate to come back to a show where we feel the love of family and Cory was like a brother to us," star Amber Riley said.
Riley's co-star, Jenna Ushkowitz, added: "On behalf of our brother and our cast mate we know that Cory would have wanted to dedicate this award to you guys, so our condolences to all of you as well and we love you so much. Thank you, guys."