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 accepting the Global Icon Award.
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 appearance at the VMAs since 2005.
“Puff’s influence 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 as she introduced the legendary hip-hop mogul and pioneer. She also invited Combs’ daughter Chance to the stage to help 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 this 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. This is a dream come true.”
Combs recalled watching MTV as a child and wishing, “One day I could be up there.” He said he started as a paperboy at age 12 before setting his sights on being an NFL football player to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. “The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t know that,” he quipped, before saying that a leg injury kept him out of the sport.
He said he finally found his way into music when people began asking to cast him in their music videos. “That’s how I fell in love with the music industry,” he added. “I saw the leaders and wanted to pursue that dream. So I want to thank every manager, every producer, every songwriter. I have to thank the Bad Boy Family because without them I wouldn’t be up here.”
“You just have to keep dreaming. I know sometimes these hard things hit us,” he said. “God has made a different decision and I thank God for this decision that he has made so that I can touch you with my music, give you a good time, make you dance and make you feel good. That’s the only intention and also 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 their trust in him.
The rapper and music producer received the Global Icon Award for “his unparalleled career and lasting influence, which has led to unmatched global success in music and beyond,” MTV said in announcing the award.
Over the course of his extensive music career, Diddy achieved two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 charts and five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. He previously won the 1997 VMAs for Best R&B Video and the 1998 Viewer’s Choice Award.
This year, Combs was nominated for four additional 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.