August 20, 2018 10:49 PM
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Jennifer Lopez has received MTV’s highest honor — and she used it as a chance to praise the people she loves the most.

On Monday night, the 49-year-old singer, dancer and actress accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards. Lopez gave a heartfelt speech thanking all the people who helped her along the way in her career, but saved the sweetest moment for her 10-year-old twins Max and Emme and boyfriend Alex Rodriguez, whom she called her “twin soul.”

“It has been an incredible journey. Dreaming my wildest dreams and then kind of watching them come through. Music, acting, performing — this career has always been an obsession for me. When people have said, ‘You’re doing too much, you can only do one thing,’ I was always a person who was like, ‘Why not?’ I kind of had to forge my own path and rules.”

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She continued: “I liked it that way for a while — just working and working and working. But it wasn’t until I had two little angels come into my life that everything changed. I knew I had to be better, I had to go higher, I had to be stronger than I had been before. It was through that unconditional love that my career and life became higher in every way, and I stand here better than ever. So thank you Max and Emme.”

She also took the time to thank her Alex Rodriguez. The proud boyfriend watched from his seat with Max and Emme while Lopez performed and at one point recorded part of the show with his phone. When it came time to watch her accept, the former baseball player couldn’t hide his grin as Max sweetly sat in his lap.

“And Alex. You’re like my twin soul. We’re like mirror images of each other,” she said. “My life is sweeter and better with you in it because you make me realize that every day the sky is not the limit — the universe is infinite, and so is what we can accomplish together with love and trust and understanding. There’s so much more to do — to experience — and there is no one I’d rather do it with. You’re my macho baby and I love you.”

The singer went through a high-tempo medley of her hits during the performance, including “Waiting for Tonight,” “On the Floor,” “I Ain’t Your Mama,” “Dance Again,” “El Anillo,” “Booty,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Get Right” and “All I Have.”

The performance also included an interlude from DJ Khaled, who pumped the crowd up while Lopez had an outfit change to come out and sing “Jenny from the Block.” Lopez rode back in on a 6 train — the subway line that serves her native Bronx.

Lopez successfully crossed over from acting to music with the release of her triple-platinum debut album On the 6 in 1999. Across eight full-length LPs, Lopez has amassed four No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and over 80 million worldwide record sales.

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In addition to claiming her award, Lopez was nominated up for two additional trophiesBest Collaboration and Best Latin Video, both for her song “Dinero” featuring DJ Khaled and Cardi B.

The Vanguard award — which was first presented to David Bowie, The Beatles and Richard Lester in 1984 — was renamed in 1991 in honor of Michael Jackson, who received the award in 1988.

Check out PEOPLE’s full MTV VMAs coverage to get the latest news on one of music’s biggest nights.

“It is amazing, honestly,” Lopez told MTV’s Sway Calloway of receiving the title on Facebook Live for an interview about the announcement. “Growing up on MTV and watching all my idols get this award. To be the recipient this year, I can’t even believe it. I’m so excited.”

She also shared her own picks for who should also receive the honor, citing Missy Elliott as a “great” choice. “Missy’s a great one, ’cause her videos were always so cutting-edge,” she said. “Yes, her and Gaga I think would be good ones.”

As a Video Vanguard recipient, Lopez follows in the footsteps of past honorees including Britney Spears, Justin TimberlakeKanye WestRihanna and Pink.

The MTV VMAs are broadcast live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City on Monday, Aug. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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