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.

Popular on Variety