Two HBCUs will be receiving millions from celebrated artist and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs after he pledged the funds during an acceptance speech at the 2022 BET Awards.
Also known as “Love,” Combs was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifelong accomplishments in the entertainment industry. The three-time Grammy winner first shook up music music by founding the Bad Boy record label in 1993. Over the years the label roster has included popular acts like the Notorious B.I.G., Faith Evans, French Montana, Total, Danity Kane and Ma$e. He has since established a clothing brand, the Ciroc vodka brand, a clothing brand, REVOLT Media & TV, and more.
Many in the audience were pleasantly surprised to see a masked-up Kanye West appear on stage to dedicate the award.
“How do we crown our kings? How do we appreciate our kings?,” he began. “To think how far we could just make if off of inspiration, to hear the way somebody chopped a sample in. Me and [friend] rushin’ to see who could get the Bad Boy mixtape and play back the original version of ‘Benjamins,’ over and over, thinkin’ I was one of the Hit Men,” he laughed.
West also went on to highlight Combs’ business skills. “[Combs] understood contracts in a way a lot of us still don’t. Understood money in a way a lot of us still don’t. I go to him for advice to this day. He inspired so many of my choices. So many of my life choices. My wife choices. And here we are. Thanks for that, Puff.”
After appearing on stage and thanking many people in his life, Combs chose to not leave the stage as the only winner. Instead, he vowed pay it forward to two HBCUs that he is connected to.
“Before I leave, I want to donate a million dollars to Howard University, and also I’mma drop another million dollars on Deion Sanders and Jackson State because we should play for us,” he said. “Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”
Diddy was a student at Howard University before eventually dropping out to pursue his music career. He received an honorary doctorate degree from the HBCU for his accomplishments up to that point in 2014. “Howard University didn’t just change my life – it entered my soul, my heart, my being and my spirit,” he at the time. “Nobody is going to invite you to the front of the line, you got to push your way to the front of the line.”
Now in Mississippi, NFL Hall of Famer and Jackson State University head coach Deion Sanders has completely transformed the HBCU’s football program. In addition to bringing top-of-the-line recruits to Jackson State football, “Coach Prime” has also brought his talented children into JSU’s sports programs as well. His sons Shedeur and Shilo Sanders are part of the football program, while his daughter Shelomi Sanders committed to school’s basketball program in February.
In addition to West’s dedication, there were performances from powerhouse artists who hold Diddy near and dear. Famous r&B group JODECI sand their hit single “Come & Talk to Me,” while Mary J. Blige gave a rendition of “I’m Going Down,” a track which was produced by Diddy.