Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars over a joke about Jada Pinkett Smith 

During the 94th Academy Awards on Sunday, Will Smith hit Chris Rock after the stand-up comedian made a joke about the actor’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith 

Smith, accepting the best actor Oscar in "King Richard," later apologized to the film academy and his fellow nominees 

As tears streamed down his face. But he did not address Rock and attempted to justify what he did. 

The encounter between Smith and Rock left the audience inside the Dolby Theatre stunned. 

In his acceptance speech, Smith appeared to compare the incident to Richard Williams' fiery spirit. 

"Richard Williams was a fierce defender of his family," Smith said 

He said he got the chance to "protect" his co-stars in "King Richard." 

"I'm being called on in my life to love people and to protect people and to be a river to my people," 

He said that, in the entertainment industry, performers are forced to "take abuse" as "people talk crazy about you." 

"I want to be a vessel for love," Smith said.