Once again it reared its ugly head, despite the fact that the adage says that words will never hurt: A college basketball player who happens to be African-American, Marcus Smart, was verbally disrespected by a middle-aged male, Jeff Orr, who’s not. The young man reacted with a shove to the chest of the loudmouth who spewed the racial epithet, and he was penalized, criticized and scrutinized for his reaction.

At the suggestion of seemingly everyone, Smart held a press conference, where he made a compassionate speech in which he apologized to his team, the school and his family for his behavior. First and foremost, however, Smart apologized to the person who hurled the insult. “I’m so sorry, Mr. Orr, but I am all that you say I am: a filthy, piece-of-crap n—r. How dare I get upset with you for telling the truth?” was how it sounded to me. It’s crazy.

I can recall a few years ago, perhaps 20, when a rap group came straight out of Compton, Calif., and set the music industry ablaze with their raw lyrical expression of the community from which they hailed. Even their name, N.W.A., had the game shook. How dare a group of Black men call themselves n—rs with pride? That was what people concentrated on, ignoring some of the commentary they gave and the issues they addressed.

It seemed that they made the word shameful to the Black community and fearful to the mainstream. Even the FBI took note. Did anyone think that one of the group’s members would revolutionize the headphone industry? Beats by Dre, anyone? What are the chances of two members of the group taking a multimedia approach to dominating the industry? Platinum records was how O’Shea Jackson (Ice Cube) got his fame, but he will ultimately leave his legacy as an actor, screenwriter and producer (his latest film, “Ride Along,” released three weeks ago, has grossed over $100 million).

Having a legendary career that is still burgeoning is an accomplishment that few can boast, and when it occurs, it has to be acknowledged and honored. Celebrating its seventh year, the BET Honors celebrate and recognize the gifts and contributions of five exceptional African-American leaders that include Ice Cube, who was granted the BET Honors Entertainment Award. Rounding out the 2014 honorees are:

• BET Honors Corporate Citizen Award: Chairman and CEO of American Express Kenneth I. Chenault

• BET Honors Visionary Award: Berry Gordy, Motown Records founder and creator of the smash hit “Motown the Musical”

• BET Honors Visual Artist Award: photographer Carrie Mae Weems

• BET Honors Musical Arts Awards: Aretha Franklin, the “Queen of Soul”

The late Nelson Mandela will be honored as well.

Taking over hosting responsibilities will be the multifaceted Wayne Brady. “We are excited to have Wayne Brady host BET Honors this year. He made the most of his moment on the show last year, and we knew pretty much immediately after that he was the multi-hyphenate talent we wanted leading this year’s festivities,” said Stephen Hill, president of music programming and specials for BET Networks. “Wayne will dazzle and amaze, and we can’t wait.”

Brady added, “Being able to host the BET Honors in our nation’s capital is definitely bucket list material for me. Not too often do you get to pay homage to the industry icons you look up to in front of your peers. I’m honored to be part of the legacy BET has built with this award show.”

While recognizing the gifts and contributions of these remarkable leaders, BET Networks continues to support organizations whose work benefits our community at large. Proceeds from the BET Honors 2014 will benefit the Women Veterans Interactive (WVI), an organization that helps provide housing options and support for veterans and their families in need. WVI was created to address the unique and often unrecognized challenges facing our nation’s 1.8 million women veterans as they return to civilian life.

The BET Honors will air on BET Networks on Monday, Feb. 24 at 9 p.m.

Over and out. Holla next week. Till then, enjoy the nightlife.