New York: Chris Lighty, a hip-hop mogul who helped the likes of Sean "Diddy" Combs, 50 Cent and Mariah Carey attain not only hit records, but also lucrative careers outside music, was found dead in his New York City apartment in an apparent suicide. He was 44.

He was found at his home yesterday in the Bronx with a gunshot to the head and was pronounced dead there, police said. No note was recovered, but a 9 mm handgun was found and there was no sign of forced entry, said Paul Browne, New York police spokesman.

The shooting appears to be self-inflicted, authorities said.Lighty had been a part of the scene for decades, working with pioneers like LL Cool J before starting his own management company, Violator.

But he was in the midst of a divorce and had been having recent financial and personal troubles.Twitter was abuzz with condolences just hours after the body was found around 11:30 am.

Diddy wrote: "In shock." Rihanna posted: "Rest peacefully Chris Lighty, my prayers go out to family and loved ones! Dear God please have mercy." And Mary J. Blige wrote: "U never know what can send a person over the edge or make them want 2 keep living, take it easy on people." 

50 Cent said in a statement issued through his publicist that he was deeply saddened by the loss. "Chris has been an important part of my business and personal growth for a decade," he said. "He was a good friend and advisor who helped me develop as an artist and businessman. My prayers are with his family. He will be greatly missed."

Lighty was raised by his mother in the Bronx as one of six children. He ran with a group called The Violators, the inspiration for the name of his management company, according to the company website.

He was a player in the hip-hop game since he was a kid DJ. He rose through the ranks at Rush Management, mogul Russell Simmons' first company before eventually founding Violator Management in the late 1990s.

"Today, we lost a hip-hop hero and one of its greatest architects," Simmons tweeted.


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