Tyler Perry, receiving the humanitarian award from the Coalition for At-Risk Youth, shared personal stories at the org’s Shall We Dance benefit on May 11.

From the stage of the BevHilton, the multi-hyphenate said that he unfortunately didn’t have a CARRY org when he was growing up.

“But my next-door-neighbor Mr. Johnson knew of the abuse I experienced, and would offer me cookies when I did good in school,” Perry recalled. Johnson also gave him shoes. “They were the ugliest shoes of my life but I wore them, and that’s why I understand these people so much,” Perry said of youngsters who grow up in poverty.

Motown songwriter Janie Bradford was also honored, and Brenda Russell and Thelma Houston performed.