Chris Lighty, who managed some of the biggest names in Hip-Hop, was pronounced dead this afternoon of an apparent suicide. He was 44.

Lighty was best known for managing the careers of many stars, including Mariah Carey, 50 Cent, and Diddy.

Reports indicate Lighty had shot himself in the head in his Bronx, NY apartment, with a gun later found near his body. NY Daily News also suggest Lighty had gone through a divorce last year, and was in steep financial difficulties. He apparently owed the IRS nearly $5 million in back-taxes.

Lighty got his starting the industry in 1989, when he began working with Russell Simmons, leaving in 1990 to start his own company, Violator Entertainment. There he worked with Carey, 50 Cent, Diddy, Ja Rule, LL Cool J, and many others. As of last year, Violator merged with Primary Wave Talent Management, making Lighty the acting chief operating officer of the two.

Simmons released this statement earlier today after news of the passing:

I am deeply saddened by the loss of a hip-hop hero. Chris Lighty has been a dear friend of mine since he was a kid. Was a brilliant partner in business and I was so proud of all that he had accomplished. He is an amazing example of how a passionate kid from the street can go to the most even-keeled, smart, thoughtful manager in the business and a generous philanthropist. He was loved by everyone who knew him, including me. He will be missed greatly by all of us.

Watch a recent interview with Chris Lighty below: