LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tracy Morgan made a triumphant return to the Emmy Awards on Sunday, telling TV's biggest stars and power players that he had missed them after spending months recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
Morgan's presentation of the night's final award was one of the ceremony's biggest moments and the culmination of months of rehabilitation and work by the comedian.
"Thank you so much," Morgan told the crowd boisterously cheering his return. "I miss you guys so much."
He referenced words from Jimmy Kimmel, who told last year's audience that Morgan would return.
Morgan said, "Well, Jimmy, thanks to my amazing doctors, the support of my family and my beautiful new wife, I'm here. Standing on my own two feet."
Morgan was seriously injured on June 7, 2014, when a Wal-Mart truck crashed into the limousine Morgan was riding in. The collision killed one of Morgan's close friends.
Federal investigators determined the truck driver was fatigued at the time and they also faulted the comedian and others in the limo for not wearing seatbelts, which contributed to the severity of the injuries.
After the serious moments at the Emmys, Morgan began cracking jokes again. He said that after waking up from a coma, he was ecstatic to find out, "I wasn't the one who messed up."
Morgan was humble and low-key while onstage Sunday night and showed off his fighting spirit while talking to reporters backstage.
Morgan, 46, pointed to scars on his forehead at one point and forcefully told reporters about his recovery, "I don't give up.
"My father was drafted into Vietnam at 17 and I never see him give up. Even when he had AIDS, he never gave up. We don't do that as Morgans."
The comedian's appearance backstage was a rarity for an actor who hadn't won an award at the current show.
He said he was overcome with emotions walking out onto the stage Sunday night. "I wanted to let them know I missed them very much," he said.
Morgan said another key factor in his recovery was his desire to marry his fiance on his own terms.
"I wanted to walk my wife down the aisle, with no cane," Morgan said. The comedian married Megan Wollover in August.
He also said he hoped his accident would lead to positive changes.
"I just hope the thing that happened to me, can be prevented now from people just dying on the road," Morgan said. "That's what I hope."
AP Entertainment Writer Lindsey Bahr contributed to this report.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP