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Music mogul Diddy was known for appearing in public frequently wearing sunglasses, but the habit is more than just the Sean Jean owner’s fashion statement. There respected producer once opened up about how a personal tragedy led to him frequently wearing shades.

Diddy once headlined a charity event that resulted in a deadly stampede

Diddy speaking into a microphone.
Diddy | Johnny Nunez/WireImage

In 1991, Bad Boys CEO Diddy, along with hip-hop legend Heavy D, organized a basketball charity event in City College at Harlem, New York. But the event ended in tragedy when a massive crowd bum-rushed the building where the event was taking place. With thousands eager to meet their favorite celebrities, the sudden rush turned into a stampede that claimed the lives of nine people.

Years later, the trauma of the event still lingered among the victims. Sharmayne Jones once opened up to The Daily Beast about her own personal experiences during and after the incident.

“Even to this day, I still have lower back pain from that,” Jones said. “I didn’t want to go to the hospital because I was just like, ‘I’m OK, some people lost their lives—at the end of the day I’m alive and I have my life.’ But that’s definitely something that I had nightmares for weeks, because the screaming, people were looking for their friends, it was a horror show.”

Diddy started wearing sunglasses more often because of the stampede

The iconic music producer was often seen sporting a pair of shades. But his fashion choice wasn’t just due to his own stylistic preferences. Diddy once recalled being so deeply affected by the tragedy that he could see the mark it left in his eyes.

“What happened at City College is the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Diddy once told Rolling Stone (via Contact Music). “I felt such a form of sorrow and remorse and then I saw a picture of myself going through it.”

But it was a sight that he didn’t want anyone else to see.

“I saw all of myself revealed, in my eyes, and that’s why I wear shades. It’s a protecting thing. If anybody looks into my eyes, they see there’s just a f****** child in there. You see my eyes, you know what I’m thinking. If I’m mad, you’re going to be able to tell. If I’m sad, (there’s) no way I can hide it. Looking into my eyes, you can touch my soul,” he explained.

Diddy was found responsible for the stampede


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The multi-millionaire was eventually held responsible for the stampede and had to settle with several of the event’s victims. But the financial consequences he experienced paled in comparison to the remorse he felt for the lives that were damaged. Through his attorney, Diddy once released a personal written statement regarding the situation.

“There is not a day that passes that I do not regret the fact that I was a promoter of this tragic event at City College,” Diddy said according to MTV News. “I have lived with the horror of that night for the last seven years. But my pain is nothing compared to what the victims’ families have had to face.”

He also trusted the ruling against him, and looked forward to the ruling helping the victims of the stampede heal.

“Yesterday’s ruling represents another step towards a resolution of the legal proceedings. But I know that when you lose a loved one, the suffering doesn’t end. I just keep praying that God will give the families the strength to bear it,” he said.