"MTV asked me to come here to say a few words about Chester and the late, great Chris Cornell, two artists that I had the absolute pleasure of touring with," Leto said. "They were close friends with each other.... Chester said of Chris, 'your voice was joy and pain and anger and forgiveness, love and heartache all wrapped up into one.' Just weeks later, Chester himself was gone."
Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, was found dead in his Palos Verdes, California, home on July 20, just months after Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Cornell committed suicide on May 18.
"Chester was my friend -- as he was to so many -- and witnessing his life taught me important things, especially about working relentlessly, pursuing dreams and being kind and caring while doing it," Leto told the crowd at Sunday's VMAs. "When I think about him, Chester, I see his face, which was always smiling. I think about his heart, which he wore on his sleeve. I think about how kindly he treated me, my brother, our band. I think about his wife and his six incredible children. I think about his family, I think about his band, they were really his brothers, and I remember his voice. At once ferocious and delicate, that voice will live forever."
"If there is anyone out there who is watching this tonight, who feels there is no hope, hear me now: you are not alone. The absolutely biggest breakthroughs in life lie just beyond the darkest days," the Oscar-winner concluded. "But today we celebrate, so please get out of your seats, stand up... and make some noise... and get ready for an electrifying performance."
"Here is Linkin Park at the 2010 VMAs," Leto said, before a clip of the band's performance played.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).