Madonna: We “Abandoned” Michael Jackson

Madonna speaks onstage during the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall on September 13, 2009 in New York City. Kevin Mazur/

Madonna delivered a touching tribute to Michael Jackson at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards in New York City.

Taking the stage at the beginning of the show, the 51-year-old singer – wearing all black – stated how they were both born in August of 1958 to large families in the mid-West. The only difference, she said, is that she got to have a childhood and Michael didn't.

She recalled how she and Jackson went out to dinner in 1991. She joked that she tried to get him to eat French fries, drink and say "bad words." Later, they went to her house to watch a movie and "his hand snuck over and held mine." Added Madonna, "In that moment, he felt like a human being."

Over the years, she said she fell out of touch with him.

She was in London when he died June 25 at the age of 50 of acute propofol intoxication.

When he passed, "all I could think about him in that one moment was, 'I had abandoned him,' that we had abandoned him," she said. "That we had allowed this magnificant creature that once set the world on fire somehow slip through the cracks. When he was trying to build a family and rebuild his career, we were all busy passing judgment. Most of us had turned our backs on him… Sometimes, we have to lose things before we can truly appreciate them…"

Her speech ended on a positive note, as she told the audience how her two sons, Rocco, 9, and David, 4, are now obsessed with Jackson.

See photos of Michael Jackson's own children at his funeral

"There's a whole lot of crotch grabbing and Moonwalking going on in my house!" she said.

"Yes, Michael Jackson was a human being, but dammit, he was a king," she concluded. "Love live the king!"

Performers then imitated his famous moves to his hits "Thriller" and "I'm Bad" as images of Jackson played on a giant screen behind them. At the end of the medley, his sister Janet took the stage and performed an electric version of their 90s duet "Scream."

In his intro, host Russell Brand also honored the King of Pop: "Michael stayed honest and beautiful to the end. We are celebrating Michael Jackson!"

Sign up now for the Us Weekly newsletter to get breaking celebrity news, hot pics and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Want stories like these delivered straight to your phone? Download the Us Weekly iPhone app now!