She called the former New York Yankees shortstop a 'catalyst' to ending her first marriage.
Derek Jeter played a big part in Mariah Carey's life, both on a personal level and musically. The former New York Yankees shortstop met Carey in 1998 shortly before her divorce from her music producer husband, Tommy Mottola.
"He was a catalyst that helped me get out of that relationship because I believed there was somebody else," Carey explains to Oprah Winfrey in the new Apple TV+ series The Oprah Conversation.
She added that Jeter being biracial also played a big part in her connection with the athlete.
"It was the racial situation. His mom is Irish, his dad is Black, but he's also very ambiguous-looking to me. I didn't know who he was," she says. "Honestly, I don't think it was like, 'Oh my gosh, he was the love of my life.' 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, whatever."
She added that seeing Jeter's own "healthy family" showed her that her own family was "dysfunctional" for reasons other than the fact that they were mixed race.
"Yes, those things did play a huge part in their dysfunction, but it was healthy for me to see a functional family that looked like mine but didn't feel like mine," she explains.
She also connected with Jeter professionally, saying, "He was also doing his dream job and living his dream job, and I believe we connected in that way."
Carey has recently revealed that her songs, "The Roof" and "My All," were both about Jeter, whom she writes about in her new memoir, The Meaning of Mariah Carey.
Carey's interview on The Oprah Conversation will air on Thursday, Sept. 24, on Apple TV+.