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Justin Timberlake thanks mom, wife, and everyone who called him 'different' while accepting iHeart Radio's Innovator Award

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Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

“I said I wouldn’t cry,” Justin Timberlake joked while accepting the iHeartRadio Music Awards’ Innovator Award, as he grew noticeably misty on stage. The 34-year-old pop star was introduced by Tom Ford and a video montage of Andy Samberg, Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift, Rick Rubin, Timbaland, and many more praising his talents and battled screaming fans (not to mention a screaming Taylor). Timberlake eventually mock-scoldied fans to quiet down so he could speak (“Okay, I’m gonna talk now. I love you, but you are breaking my concentration!”), before shifting to a serious tone. Referring to his grade school classmates Timberlake said, “Growing up in school, no one ever called me anything close to an innovator. They called me different, they called me weird.” He thanked his mother for teaching him that being different was good and reminded the audience, “Your critics do not count. Their words will fade, you won’t.”

He closed out his acceptance by quoting both Steve Jobs’s 2005 commencement address at Stanford University and President Theodore Roosevelt, before honoring his “favorite collaborator,” wife Jessica Biel—expressing joy for their forthcoming child: “Daddy’s heading home right now to innovate by learning how to change a poopy diaper and get my swaddle on.”

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