At the Asian Awards on Friday night in London, the 22-year-old took a moment during his acceptance speech to thank them.
After winning Outstanding Achievement in Music, Malik went onstage and thanked all the people who made it possible for him to be there -- starting with his parents.
"I'd like to thank my mum and dad, for uh, making me Asian," Malik said to a chorus of applause and laughter. (His father is British and his mother is British-Pakistani. Mom Trisha Malik was also his date to the event.)
Then he thanked the friends who gave him his big break in the music business.
"I'd also like to take this moment to thank four of the best guys I've ever met," Malik said. "What we did will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I thank them for that."
Malik ended his speech on an optimistic -- and thankful -- note.
"Here's to the future," he said, holding up his statue. "Thank you very much."
The Asian Awards honor "excellence and talents" in areas such as business, sports, technology, politics, and the arts. Other winners this year included fashion designer John Rocha, actor Shah Rukh Khan, and cricket player Kumar Sangakkara.
Watch Malik explain why he left One Direction: