The emancipation of Mimi! Mariah Carey opened up about dating Derek Jeter in the late 1990s as her marriage to Tommy Mottola came to an end.
“He was a catalyst that helped me get out of that relationship because I believed that there was somebody else [out there for me],” the five-time Grammy winner, 50, told Oprah Winfrey on Apple TV+’s The Oprah Conversation on Thursday, September 24.
“It was the racial situation — you know, his mom is Irish, his dad is Black — but he was also very ambiguous looking to me,” she recalled. “I didn’t know who he was.”
During their relationship, Carey wrote two songs about the former New York Yankees shortstop, now 46, for her 1997 album, Butterfly: “My All,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “The Roof.”
The pop diva was head over heels in love with Jeter, but looking back now, she knows he was not The One. He was simply “the right person at the right place in the right time,” as Winfrey, 66, put it.
“I don’t think it was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, he was the love of my life,’” Carey explained. “At the time I did because I didn’t think I would ever meet anybody who wouldn’t … feel superior to me because of the fact that I’m not one way or another in most people’s minds and they have preconceived notions or whatever. But he was a catalyst, and I think that it was beautiful.”
The “Hero” singer, who had a tumultuous childhood, said during the interview that she was particularly drawn to the baseball player because of his close bond with his parents.
“They changed my viewpoint that ‘Oh, it’s because of the biracial situation that my family is so screwed up’ as opposed to ‘It’s them,’” she said. “And yes, those things did play a huge part in [my parents’] disfunction, but it was healthy for me to see a functional family that basically kind of looked like mine but didn’t feel like mine. And he was also living his dream job and doing his dream job and stuff. I believe we connected in that way.”
Mottola, now 71, discovered Carey in 1988 and signed her to Columbia Records, which he headed at the time. They started dating in 1992 while she was recording her third album, Music Box, and got married the following year. Creative differences drove them apart, and they separated in 1997.
The Meaning of Mariah Carey author wed Nick Cannon in 2008. They welcomed twins Moroccan and Monroe in 2011 before divorcing in 2016.
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Jeter, for his part, married Hannah Jeter (née Davis) in 2016. They have two daughters: Bella, 3, and Story, 19 months.
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