Opening up exclusively to PEOPLE in this week’s issue, the music mogul says his milestone birthday and the fast-approaching new decade has him feeling renewed after a tragic year.
“I think everybody gets their second chance at life at different points,” says Combs. For his star-studded 50th birthday on Dec. 14, Combs commissioned gospel star Marvin Sapp to sing the hit song “Never Would Have Made It” as a nod to his emotional journey. Last year, Combs laid his ex Kim Porter to rest. The late model is mother to three of his children, along with Quincy, her son who Combs helped raise. The rapper is also dad to two more children from other relationships.
Losing Porter, whom Combs admittedly regrets he didn’t marry, is the most recent of the personal struggles and public controversies the star has faced. Still, he is focused on moving onward and upward.
“For me, I went through so many personal things and so much loss… I never knew there was a point in life that I can learn from all my mistakes or clear anything that I regret,” he says. “Forgive myself, start anew. I have a total second chance.”
And he’s using this renewed opportunity to spread nothing but love. The mogul even filed to legally change his middle name to “Love” earlier this year.
At his party — which was rescheduled twice to coincide with what would have been Porter’s 49th birthday weekend — he “danced all night” to hits spun by DJ Cassidy. Diddy was serenaded by friends and family who sang “Happy Birthday” as he stood in front of an elaborate cake that spelled “LOVE.”
“I think it was bittersweet,” says one attendee of the celebration that boasted non-stop CÎROC cocktails and a concert-style performance from Mary J. Blige. “But there was a lot of love in the room.” And the most touching moment for the icon involved the people he loves the most.
“To see all my six kids, who have been through the year we’ve been through, get up onstage and say the most beautiful things about me,” he says. “Man, that’s when I felt like I did it. It’s all icing on the cake from here, baby.”
For more on Diddy’s milestone birthday and emotional journey, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday.