The Oscar winner, 55, received a standing ovation at the Critics Choice Association Awards in Los Angeles on Monday night, where he received the Vanguard Award.
Although Foxx has been spotted several times since his hospitalisation while filming Back In Action with Cameron Diaz, this marked his first official public appearance.
"You know, it’s crazy, I couldn’t do that six months ago — I couldn’t actually walk,” Foxx said at the beginning of his 12-minute speech, before taking a pause due to being overcome with emotion.
"I cherish every single minute now — it’s different," he shared. "I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my worst enemy because it’s tough when it’s almost over … when you see the tunnel. I saw the tunnel — I didn’t see the light.
"I have a new respect for life. I have a new respect for my art. I watched so many movies and listened to so many songs trying to have the time go by. Don’t give up on your art, man, don’t give up," he added.
The nature of his illness has not been disclosed.
Foxx also shared his praise and thanks for his family, including his sister and daughter, for how they had helped to care for him while he was recuperating.
It's unclear if Foxx will be returning to shoot additional scenes for his film Back In Action, which continued film with Diaz and stand-ins filling in for him.
In May, the actor released a statement thanking fans for their "love" and assuring them he was "feeling blessed" amid his recovery; then he was spotted on a boat in Chicago in July.
Last month it was reported that Foxx faces sexual assault and battery charges relating to an incident in New York in 2015. Through a spokesperson Foxx has denied the allegations.