"I wish his family well," said LL. "Let's give it up for him."
Gladys Knight sang during the in memoriam segment, but the beginning of her performance wasn't heard on the live NBC broadcast because of a technical glitch.
Sidney Poitier presented Harry Belafonte with the Spingarn Award, which honors outstanding achievement by an African American. His honor was followed by a serenade from Wyclef Jean and Common.
Other winners at the ceremony hosted by talk show host Steve Harvey included Loretta Devine as supporting actress in a drama series for "Grey's Anatomy," Cassi Davis as outstanding actress in a comedy series and Lance Gross as outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for TBS' "Tyler Perry's House of Payne."
The Image Awards are presented annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the group's members select the winners.
Follow AP Entertainment Writer Derrik J. Lang on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/derrikjlang