Sean “Diddy” Combs took the audience back in time at the 2023 VMAs as he performed a medley of hits like “I’ll Be Missing You” and “Bad Boy for Life” before taking home the Global Icon Award received.
The artist known as Puff Daddy also performed “I Need a Girl (Part Two)” and “Last Night,” with special guest Keyshia Cole. This was his first performance at the VMAs since 2005.
“Puff’s impact on pop culture is immeasurable. His iconic music videos redefine the form. His global influence will forever be felt throughout the music industry,” said Mary J. Blige in introducing the legendary hip-hop mogul and pioneer. She also invited Combs’ daughter, Chance, to the stage to present the award to her father.
“This is so surreal,” Combs said as he accepted the honor. “I appreciate you all coming and giving me my flowers and celebrating me.”
He continued, “I have to thank God because that is my secret weapon. You know, it doesn’t matter what religion you are, but make sure you know that there is a higher power of love and I just want to say, I give all the glory to God. Thank you so much. This is a dream come true.”
Combs remembered watching MTV as a kid and wishing I could be there someday. He said he started working as a paper boy at age 12 before aspiring to become an NFL football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. “The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t know this,” he joked, before saying a leg injury took him out of the sport.
He said he eventually found his way into music when people asked to cast him in their music videos. “That’s how I fell in love with the music industry,” he added. “I saw the executives and I wanted to pursue that dream. So I want to thank every director, every producer, every songwriter. I have to thank the Bad Boy Family because without them I wouldn’t be here.”
“You just have to keep dreaming. I know sometimes we get hit with those hard things,” he said. “God made a different choice, and I thank God for this choice he made for me to be able to touch you with my music, to give you a good time, to make you dance, to make you feel good. That’s the only intention, and also to make sure we all get the same 24 hours. You know what I mean? So when we came into the game, we came as bosses, we came as kings, we came as queens and that’s what’s going on.
Combs concluded by thanking his team and fans for believing in him.
The rapper and music producer received the Global Icon Award for “his unparalleled career and enduring influence that has achieved unparalleled global success in music and beyond,” MTV said in announcing the honor.
Throughout his extensive music career, Diddy scored two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart, as well as five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. He also previously won VMAs for Best R&B Video in 1997 and the Viewer’s Choice Award in 1998.
This year, Combs was nominated for four other awards for his work on “Creepin” (Remix) and “Gotta Move On,” including two nominations for Best Collaboration, Best Rap and Best R&B.
The 2023 VMAs aired live from the Prudential Center in New Jersey on Tuesday.