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After years of feeling “controlled” and “trapped” in her marriage to Tommy Mottola, Mariah Carey finally felt a reprieve when she met Derek Jeter. In her new memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey, she went into detail about the crumbling of her “constricting” marriage, which lasted from 1993 until their separation in 1997 (the divorce was finalized in 2000). However, Mariah met Derek before separating from Tommy, and it sparked feelings she never felt before.
In the book, Mariah revealed how she met Derek in the midst of intense couples’ therapy with Tommy. As instructed by the therapist, Mariah was enjoying a public night out alone — without her husband — when she wound up at the same table as Derek at a gala. At first, she paid him no mind, but when she overheard someone mention that he came from a mixed family, like her, she was immediately intrigued.
“It was as if suddenly I could see him,” Mariah recalled. “Derek was definitely no longer pedestrian; he was closer to Prince Charming. The first moment of connection was so profound. Finally, it was actually as if I was living a dream. It was as if there was no one else in the restaurant or universe. I couldn’t recall the last time, if there had ever been one, that I’d felt butterflies talking to a man.”
After spending the night talking, Mariah managed to sneakily exchange numbers with the baseball star. They began a “clandestine communication,” she explained, which consisted of texting and “planning times to talk.” At the time, Mariah was admittedly “still afraid” of her husband, so the phone calls were brief, but helped push the singer toward “freedom” from her marriage.
Eventually, Mariah and Derek were able to plan a secret meeting at a pizza place. With help from an assistant, Mariah was able to sneak away from the careful eye of one of Tommy’s “spies” and leave with Derek to go back to his nearby apartment. “I was nervous on several levels,” she wrote. “In addition to being terrified of Tommy’s wrath, I was also feeling naive. Even though I’d been all over the world, I had nearly nonexistent experience in dating. The thought of the simple pleasure of just being close to Derek was liberating.”
Back at Derek’s apartment, the two shared a “warm, slow, intoxicating kiss,” Mariah said. The moment was so romantic, that it culminated with the skies opening up and raining down on them. Later, Mariah admitted that this moment with Derek is what finally “pushed” her to leave Tommy. “I romanticized so much about that night that I believed it was my destiny,” she admitted. “I thought I had met my soulmate [with Derek]. I was driven. My whole being ached to see Derek.”
Then, after hearing that Derek was in Puerto Rico, Mariah snuck away on a vacation of her own and managed to “bump into” him there. They spent the night together, but she was clear that they did nothing more than kiss during the secret rendezvous. “Neither of us wanted to cheapen our romance by cheating on my marriage,” Mariah explained. “I know plenty of women who would’ve had sex on that roof in the rain, or in the villa on the beach. It would’ve been justified — they were seductive situations and my miserable marriage was in ruins, at best — but it wouldn’t have been right. I wanted to wait until it was right.”
Mariah described her relationship with Derek as “sensual” because “everything was so new and sweet.” She also recalled feeling comfortable with Derek’s family and feeling a sense of belonging that she never felt with her own. Unfortunately, things eventually fizzled out, but Mariah looks back on the romance as a pivotal time in her life.
“Just like his position on [The Yankees], our relationship was short stop in my life,” Mariah wrote. “It was a very critical transition for me, and maybe a dream come true, or maybe an accomplishment for him. I don’t know. Very soon it became clear we weren’t meant for the long run. My time with Derek was a sweet and short dream, yet it’s impact lingered. I thought about it from time to time for years after.
She added, “Though our relationship was just a moment in my time line, Derek served a very high purpose in my life. He was the catalyst I needed to get out from under Tommy’s crippling control and get in touch with my sensuality. And the intimacy of our shared racial experience was major — to connect with a healthy family that looked like mine was very inspiring. He was in the right place at the right time, and he was there for the right purpose.” Mariah’s book, The Meaning of Mariah, is available now!