The "Hero" singer also says the baseball player's "functional" family helped her feel more comfortable about her own family's biracial identity

By Tomás Mier
September 23, 2020 09:00 AM
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Derek Jeter played an important role in Mariah Carey's decision to divorce from Tommy Mottola.

In an exclusive clip of Thursday's The Oprah Conversation with the singer, Carey opens up about her relationship with the New York Yankee in the late '90s. She describes Jeter as a ″catalyst″ for her to leave Mottola, her husband of five years.

″Before you divorced Tommy Mottola, you met Yankee baseball player Derek Jeter, and you say he served a very high purpose in your life," Oprah, 66, says in the clip, referring to Carey's upcoming memoir The Meaning of Mariah Carey. ″This was one of those situations of the right person at the right place and the right time. What was it about Derek? He got his own song too, right?″

Carey, 50, replies candidly, ″He got his own song. He got a few songs. He was a catalyst that helped me get out of that relationship because I believed that there was somebody else."

Mariah Carey and Derek Jeter
John Barrett/Globe Photos

″It was the racial situation, his mom is Irish, his dad is Black. But he was also very ambiguous looking to me. I didn't know who he was, we met and I've written songs about it," she says. (Last month, she told Vulture that ″My All″ and ″The Roof″ are about the baseball player.)

″And honestly, I don't think it was like, 'Oh my gosh, he was the love of my life,'″ she admits. ″Like, at the time I did, because I didn't think I would ever meet anybody who wouldn't- What's the word? I used the word, I just thought about this last night. Not looked down on but 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, whatever.″

″But he was a catalyst. And I think that it was beautiful," she adds.

Mariah Carey
courtesy apple

The five-time Grammy winner also speaks about Jeter's biracial family, which she describes as a ″healthy″ and ″functional″ one that changed her perceptions of her own.

″And 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.' And yes, those things did play a huge part in their dysfunction. 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,″ she adds. ″I believe we connected in that way."

Mariah Carey's memoir cover
Courtesy Henry Holt and Company

In her Vulture interview last month, Carey said she remembered her first kiss with the baseball player when she wore a ″buttery leather Chanel skirt.″

″I can never forget that moment,″ she said. ″I mean, it's not like it was some intensely deep, intellectually stimulating — again, it was a great moment, and it happened in a divine way because it helped me get past living there, in Sing Sing, under those rules and regulations."

Mottola and Carey were married for five years in the 1990s. She later married Nick Cannon in 2008 and divorced in 2016. The two share 9-year-old twins Moroccan and Monroe.

Oprah Winfrey
courtesy apple

Her new book — co-written with Michaela Angela Davis — is expected to go in-depth about the struggles she faced ″during her meteoric rise to music superstardom.″

″It took me a lifetime to have the courage and clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments," Carey wrote on Instagram in July. "The ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams that contributed to the person I am today."

The Oprah Conversation: Mariah Carey premieres Thursday on Apple TV+. The Apple Original series "features Oprah leading intimate discussions with today's foremost newsmakers, thought leaders, and masters of their craft," according to a release.

Carey's highly anticipated memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, drops Sept. 29.