Morgan Wallen, the country music star who was embroiled in scandal last year for his use of the N-word, just accepted a major honor at the ACM Awards.
Wallen won Album of the Year at the Academy of Country Music Awards for Dangerous: The Double Album. Other nominees in the category included Miranda Lambert, who won Entertainer of the Year, and Carly Pearce.
"To my son, this album and this award will signify that his daddy was a fighter and that he chased his dreams and worked hard to make them a reality," Wallen said in his acceptance speech.
Wallen also thanked "everyone who has shown me grace along the way." In February 2021, TMZ published video showing Wallen using the N-word after returning home from a night out with his friends, leading him to be suspended by his label and for his music to be pulled on the radio. Despite this, his album Dangerous became the most popular album of 2021 in the U.S., according to Billboard.
Wallen apologized to TMZ for the "unacceptable and inappropriate racial slur that I wish I could take back." He later told Good Morning America, "I was around some of my friends, and we say dumb stuff together. It was, in our minds, it's playful ... that sounds ignorant, but that's really where it came from, and it's wrong."
Multiple awards shows subsequently disinvited Wallen even though his music was nominated, and in February 2021, he was disqualified from the 2021 ACM Awards. "The Academy does not condone or support intolerance or behavior that doesn't align with our commitment and dedication to diversity and inclusion," the Academy of Country Music said.
But one year later, Wallen was both eligible for the 2022 ACM Awards and invited to attend the ceremony, and he received a warm reception from the crowd during his acceptance speech.