Brown, who won the gong for best male R&B artist category, was not at the event.
Rowland, accepting the award on his behalf, seemed surprised by the audience’s reaction as they booed when she announced Brown’s name.
"Excuse me... chill out," she said as cameras panned to show the audience, some of whom were booing and making other unclear remarks.
She continued: "But I wanted to tell Chris, thank you so much for making great R&B music and I want to tell him thank you for being an incredible performer.
— Etalk (@etalkCTV) November 21, 2022
"I’ll take this award [and] bring it to you. I love you. Congratulations. And congratulations to all the nominees in this category."
Viewers took to Twitter to hit back at Rowland’s admonishment of the crowd. One wrote: “So dissappointed in Kelly! Why is she telling the audience not to boo the man who punched Rihanna like she was in a boxing ring?”
Another stated: “Kelly Rowland is crazy. Chris Brown literally has a song where he says he isn’t into black women unless they’re mixed and she’s defending him.”
A third wrote: “So Chris Brown punched Rihanna, his ex Karrueche has a restraining order against him and he went to prison for punching a man but Kelly wants us to applaud him cos he can dance and sing?”
While a fourth said: “Oh chill yourself, Kelly. This is why Beyonce is the queen you’ll never be. She would vever do this.”
Brown was disgraced after pleading guilty to assaulting then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009 and has remained a divisive figure since.
He has subsequently been served with a restraining order for allegedly abusing his ex-girlfriend Karrueche Tran, and served a prison sentence for another assault of a man outside a nightclub in 2018.
Brown had been due to honour the 40th anniversary of Michael Jackson’s blockbuster Thriller album at Sunday’s ceremony in LA, performing hits including Beat It, Billie Jean, Wanna Be Starting Something and Thriller.
However, he claimed hs Michael Jackson tribute performance was cancelled by organisers with no explanation just days before the ceremony.
The singer posted a video of his rehearsal with the caption on his Instagram page: "U serious?"
"Would’ve been the [biggest] AMA performance but they cancelled me for reasons unknown," he added in the comments.
Artists who did perform at the show included Pink, who sang Hopelessly Devoted To You in tribute to Olivia Newton John, who died last month.
Soul legend Lionel Richie who was given the Icon Award by his fellow Motown artist Smokey Robinson.
Taylor Swift was the night’s biggest winner, taking home all six of her nominations, including the night’s top prize - artist of the year.
Swift now has a lifetime total of 40 AMAs, extending her lead at the most successful artist in the history of the fan-voted awards ceremony.