Kevin Hart received a standing ovation Sunday night at the E! People’s Choice Awards during his first official public appearance since he was injured in a near-fatal car accident.
As the Kanye West single “Stronger” played in the background, celebrities in the audience — including actor Terry Crews and comedian David Spade — applauded when Hart walked on stage at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California.
After Robert Downey Jr. handed him the award for Comedy Act of 2019, the Night School star said he’s thankful to be alive.
“First and foremost, thank God because I definitely don’t have to be here,” Hart told the audience. “Being that I am, it makes me appreciate life even more. It makes me appreciate the things that really matter. Family. I want to thank my wife and kids, who really stepped up to the plate for me.”
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He also thanked his fans for their continued support.
“You have no idea the effect you have on us as entertainers. Your energy, your support, it means the world and I truly want to thank you guys for being there for me in my difficult time,” he added.
On September 1, Hart suffered serious back injuries when his 1970 Plymouth Barracuda drove off Mulholland Highway in Malibu and rolled down an embankment. The comedian was a passenger in the vehicle, which was being driven by his friend, Jared Black.
The California Highway Patrol said in a statement that Black was also seriously injured and had to be airlifted to an area hospital. A third person in the car, Black’s fiancée Rebecca Broxterman, had only minor complaints of pain and was not hospitalized.