Entertainment Music Mary J. Blige Receives Icon Award at 2022 BBMAs: 'I Finally Found That Real Love — Real Love Is Me' During Sunday's 2022 Billboard Music Awards ceremony, Mary J. Blige received the coveted Billboard Icon Award By Daniela Avila Daniela Avila Instagram Twitter Editorial Assistant, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines and Jen Juneau Jen Juneau Twitter Jen Juneau is a digital news writer for PEOPLE since 2016. People Editorial Guidelines Published on May 15, 2022 10:21 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Mary J. Blige. Photo: Rich Polk/getty Mary J. Blige stays winning! During Sunday's 2022 Billboard Music Awards ceremony, the singer received the coveted Billboard Icon Award, presented by 2018's winner Janet Jackson. After calling Jackson, 56, one of her "biggest inspirations growing up," Blige, 54, said that becoming a legend "takes a lot of time, hard work and a lot of surviving trial and error to achieve greatness." "What an icon means to me is overcoming obstacles to accomplish the unthinkable and be widely admired for having influence over a multitude of people, and that is what I've always represented," the nine-time Grammy Award winner said, as the crowd cheered. Later in her speech, after reflecting on how far she has come and the women whose lives she touched with her music, Blige joked "I was ghetto fabulous, and I still am," adding: "So ghetto, so fabulous, and people were threatened by that." For more on the 2022 Billboard Music Awards, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day. "The message in my music has always been that we are not alone in our struggles. And I'm not alone now," she added. "For so long, I was searching for a real love, but I finally found my real love. And that real love is me." Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human-interest stories. Mary J. Blige and Janet Jackson. Rich Polk/getty Mary J. Blige Reveals Why She Doesn't Want Kids: "I Like My Freedom" This award show marks Blige's eleventh Billboard Music Award win, following a 1995 album of the year win for My Life and nine trophies earned during her The Breakthrough album era in 2006. Ahead of the honor, she expressed gratitude for earning the esteemed award. "My career has been such an incredible and unexpected journey that has included many turns into avenues I never could have imagined like acting, producing, launching businesses and now even my own music festival," she said in a statement. Mary J. Blige. Bryan Steffy/WireImage Be sure to check out PEOPLE's Billboard Music Awards coverage to get the latest news on music's big night. She continued, "Through it all, I always one way or another gravitated back to my first love, music. To be recognized in this way at this moment, with the Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards, is an incredible honor and one that I am truly humbled by." The Billboard icon award was established in 2011, and Blige follows previous A-list recipients Neil Diamond, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Jennifer Lopez, Celine Dion, Cher, Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Garth Brooks, and Pink. RELATED VIDEO: Mary J. Blige Credits Fans for Helping Rescue Her from Suicidal Thoughts: "I've Got to Push Through" Blige's 2022 has already been jam-packed, as she released her 14th studio album, Good Morning Gorgeous, on Feb. 11 — two days before she delivered a show-stopping performance of 2001 hits "Family Affair" and "No More Drama" at the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and special guests 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak. Ahead of the halftime show, the "Just Fine" singer spoke to PEOPLE about representing women in an otherwise male-dominated performance. "I love the fact that I'm respected by my male peers like that, I've always been. I've never had a problem with any of my male peers," she said at the time. "And I actually have a lot of male fans too." The Billboard Music Awards are airing live from Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena at 8 p.m. EST on NBC and Peacock.