Ma last won the prize in 2005, and was sentenced to prison three years later after she shot a former friend after accusing her of theft. "You can make mistakes and come back". She also put out "Shether", a diss track that insults Minaj.
The Queens native also revealed that she has become the "most awarded" female rapper in history, thanks to the ASCAP award for her feature on Yo Gotti's Down in the DMs remix.
R&B girl group Xscape reunited on the BET Award stage for a performance that won over the audience nostalgic for '90s R&B.
A lifetime achievement tribute to New Edition came in a three-part performance with help from the actors from the BET biopic about the band.
The foursome sang the popular hits "Just Kickin' It", "Understanding" and "Who Can I Run To?".
Mars, who was nominated for four awards that night, kicked off the show with an energetic and fun performance of his song "Perm", with his band the Hooligans, all performing and singing in ideal synchronization. They will compete with Beyonce's "Sorry", Mars' "24K Magic", Solange's "Cranes In the Sky" and Big Sean's "Bounce Back".
The 31-year-old singer-songwriter-producer is also nominated for best male R&B/pop artist, going up against Chris Brown, The Weeknd, Usher and Trey Songz.
"To the fans, you know I love you".
This led many people to speculate that her chair would once again be empty at the BET Awards, which, of course, it was.
Chance the Rapper won the best new artist award and will be presented the humanitarian award later in the ceremony.
In a taped message, Michelle Obama honored Chance, who has raised $2 million dollars for Chicago public schools.
Beyonce, who reportedly had her twins earlier this month though she hasn't commented on the topic, was the top nominee with seven.
Still Beyonce had words to share when she won the viewers' choice award through a young duo, Chloe x Halle, that the pop star asked to pick up her award.
Bruno Mars had a big night with his first-ever BET Award for best male R&B/pop artist, which seems a little late in coming for a star whose been putting out multiplatinum albums and hit singles for years. Other nominees include Missy Elliott, Young Ma and Cardi B.
Solange held a moment of silence onstage later on, and the show also honored some of the minorities who died at the hands of police officers, including Trayvon Martin, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and others.
Other winners included gospel rapper Lecrae and Migos, who took home best group.
The hip-hop trio Migos won the night's first honor - the best group award.
Mary J. Blige was also a favorite: She sang songs from "Strength of a Woman", her recent album that includes emotional tunes about her divorce.
"Mary J. got that break up body".
Regina Hall, from left, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah present the lifetime achievement award at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 25, 2017, in Los Angeles.
Nicki Minaj lives and breathes fashion, so it would only make sense that her BET look would be a show stopper.
Beyonce, who dominated last year's show with multiple wins and a show-stopping performance, is up for seven honors.