Before Sean Combs became a household name, he was earning his way into the industry as a rap promoter. His initial rise to fame included an immense tragedy, however, when Combs was at the center of a celebrity basketball event that turned into a deadly stampede.

In late December of 1991, Diddy organized the charity game at City College in Harlem, New York which featured artists like Boyz II Men, Run-DMC, and Jodeci. Due to poor crowd management and a lack of security, the event ended in mayhem, with a massive crowd attempting to rush into the stadium. Up to 5,000 people showed up to the event with a capacity of 2,730, resulting in a crowd surge that killed nine individuals and left 29 more injured.

The tragedy resulted in a civil lawsuit against City College brought by several of the victims’ families, with Diddy testifying on the stand. According to court documents published by the Associated Press (via The New York Times), the rapper remembered that he “started seeing different young ladies getting squished” adding, “You could see panic on everybody’s face.” Combs eventually settled several lawsuits brought against him by families involved in the chaos. The memory haunts him, however, with the producer admitting on the stand in 1998, “City College is something I deal with every day of my life. But the things that I deal with can in no way measure up to the pain that the families deal with.”

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