When news broke about music executive Andre Harrell’s death, celebrities and fans flooded social media to offer condolences and share memories.
But everyone waited to hear from Sean “Diddy” Combs, Harrell’s mentee and longtime friend. On Monday night, Diddy posted a clip to Instagram from when he received the Industry Icon Award at the Pre–Grammy Gala earlier this year.
At the time, that speech was famous for Diddy calling out the recording academy for its lack of diversity and not respecting hip-hop and Black music.
But there was another part of his speech that will forever be etched in fan’s hearts. While some don’t get to publicly give “flowers” to their mentors while they’re still living, the Revolt TV founder saluted the man who had hired him as an intern decades ago at Uptown Records.
During his speech the mogul offered heartfelt words that celebrated Harrell as he sat in the audience. “I want to take the time to thank Andre for being a big brother, for believing in me. Dre, I’m only standing up here because you gave me the chance—you gave me the opportunity,” Diddy said to a room full of applause.
Diddy was especially grateful because Harrell taught him how to navigate the music industry. “You took me underneath your wing and you was patient with me and you taught me and you talked to me and you taught me about the game,” he said from the podium. “And you taught me what it was to be a record man. You believed in me, you know, and you keep teaching me, even until today, you still teach me.”
The most touching part was the end of the clip, which caught Harrell, the man who coined the term ghetto fabulous, smiling and nodding his head as his former mentee spoke. “I call you my big brother, but tonight I got to tell you the truth. I told you my father died when I was two and half. Andre, you’ve been my father for the last 30 years, B.”
The caption was equally moving, Diddy wrote: “I’m going to miss him so much. I can’t even imagine life without Dre.”
Harrell died of heart failure at his West Hollywood home. He was 59.