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10 Times Celebrities Were Attacked On Stage & In Public

Photo: Everett Collection | Kathy Hutchins | Ovidiu Hrubaru | Shutterstock
10 Times Celebrities Were Attacked On Stage & In Public

Celebrities are always a hot topic. They’re in the press, from magazine covers to tabloids to reality shows to gossip blogs. There is no safe place for a celebrity to hide, especially if they have hardcore fans who are utterly obsessed with them.

It’s not uncommon for celebrities to fight off hordes of enthusiastic fans—even those that want to harm them. Many celebrities can’t catch a break from challenging bodyguards to being swamped by eager fans.

Yeah, it’s cute watching fangirls and fanboys watch their idols live, but what about those passionate fans that get a little too close and personal with the stars? There are some passionate people out there, but I’m sure you’ve never seen anything like this.

Here are ten times celebrities were attacked on stage and in public.

1. Dave Chappelle — Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles (2022)

While making his exit off stage on Tuesday, May 3, at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, Dave Chappelle was attacked by an audience member who climbed onstage and tackled him.

The TMZ video footage displays the assailant rushing onto the stage and tackling the comedian to the ground during the Netflix comedy special. The attacker then stands up and attempts to flee the stage but is apprehended and tackled by what looked to be security officers and members of Chappelle’s team.

LAPD reported that police arrested assailant Isaiah Lee, 23, at 10:50 PM Tuesday “on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon,” according to a source from Variety. Authorities then took Lee to a hospital for medical treatment—he was not injured due to the crime.

The weapon, retrieved and booked as evidence, was later photographed by police and shared on Twitter.

The weapon was a “knife blade,” a replica handgun knife.

The comedian seemed to be unharmed and swiftly regained poise following the attack.

According to CNN Entertainment, Chappelle is “fully cooperating” with the police investigation into the event.

The apparent motive for the attack is still unknown.

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2. Chris Rock — The Oscars (2022)

The 2022 Oscars were filled with smiles and humor, but that didn’t mean it stayed that way. Before the night’s end, Chris Rock delivered a particularly offensive joke to Jada Pickett Smith, which sent her husband, Will Smith, into a rage. The Oscar-nominated actor was angered by the comedian’s mocking of his wife and uttered an F-bomb.

According to Cinema Blend, Smith then got up on stage and slapped Rock, allegedly surprising the comedian. As the night continued, spectators at home turned to Twitter to figure out what had happened.

Many believed the slap was part of the show since many in the US didn’t hear the entire audio exchange between the two. Things became clear once people with access to foreign broadcasts began sharing “the full audio exchange between the two,” where Will Smith warned Chris Rock to keep his wife’s name out of his “f---ing mouth.”

CNBC reports that during his acceptance speech for Best Actor for his portrayal of Richard Williams in King Richard, Smith apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees. The next day, Smith apologized to Rock on social media.

Smith later resigned from the Academy, calling his acts “shocking, hurtful, and unacceptable.”

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences made a statement following the altercation. Smith was promptly banned from any events or programs hosted by the group for ten years, including The Oscars.

“This action we are taking today in response to Will Smith’s behavior is a step toward a larger goal of protecting the safety of our performers and guests, and restoring trust in the Academy.“

RELATED: Will Smith’s Apology To Chris Rock Should Be Enough For Us To Stop Punishing Him For The Infamous Oscars Slap

3. XXXTentacion — San Diego, California (2017)

An audience member suddenly jumped XXXTentacion on stage during his San Diego show. The rapper was in the middle of a song when his assailant jumped onstage and ambushed him with a blow to the face, knocking the celebrity unconscious. Other assailants joined in for a few more kicks and punches before security arrived to interfere, “realizing what they were there for,” reports a source from Billboard.

Many noted that the event took place in San Diego, the hometown of Rob Stone, whose group was also involved in “an April altercation with XXXTentacion’s friend Ski Mask.” However, no charges were filed, and Rob would not comment on the incident.

XXXTentacion, on the other hand, didn’t stay quiet for long. Following the assault, he took to Twitter to accuse the security of setting him up, and later on Instagram, he provided his side of the story, stating that he intends to sue the venue.

There were no arrests made.

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4. Christina Grimmie — Orlando, Florida (2016)

Christina Grimmie, 22, known for her time on NBC’s The Voice, was signing autographs after a show in 2016 at Orlando’s Plaza Line Theater when a man “approached and opened fire,” reports a source from CNN Entertainment.

The attacker, identified as 27-year-old Kevin James Loibl, was tackled to the ground by Grimmie’s older brother, Marcus, before fatally shooting himself in the head. The incident happened less than two days before the Pulse massacre in the same city. 

Grimmie was brought to the hospital with three gunshot wounds and was in critical condition. She, unfortunately, died as a result of the attack.

The police reported that the gunman had two handguns, two more loaded magazines, and a large hunting knife. While combing through Loibl’s possessions, police were unable to find a motive or proof that the two knew one another, however it was reported that Loibl was said to be "infatuated with Grimmie," and supposedly had altered his appearance in an attempt to get her attention.

In the aftermath, Grimmie’s older brother shared a tribute on Twitter, writing, “I just don’t have any words.”

Others in the music industry also banded together to mourn the loss.

5. Gigi Hadid — Milan Fashion Week (2016)

As she was leaving the Max Mara show during 2016’s Milan Fashion Week, Hadid was attacked by a crazed “fan,” who, according to Seventeen, is a “serial celebrity attacker named Vitalii Sediuk.” Sediuk suddenly picked up the model and lifted her off the ground. Hadid screamed, “Let go of me! Who the f--k are you? You piece of sh--!” She then elbowed him in the face to make him let go.

He ran away after letting her go.

Seventeen reported thatThe Sun published images of her elbowing him in isolation with a headline chiding her behavior.”

Reporter Rachel McGrath from Huffington Post UK took to Twitter to offer a more appropriate title.

Hadid responded to the tweet, thanking McGrath for her support. She wrote that she had “every right to defend herself.”

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6. Selena Gomez — Paris Fashion Week (2015)

While making rounds at Paris Fashion Week 2015, Gomez hung out with other A-listers like Gigi Hadid and even Chloe Grace Mortez.

But after leaving the Louis Vuitton show, Gomez and her security team ended up in the middle of a swarm of fans and paparazzi.

According to The Richest, Gomez was visibly terrified as her bodyguards surrounded and sheltered her from crowds of admirers attempting to grab her, but they were losing track of Gomez.

They fought their way through the crowd. At one point, Extra TV reports that fans pushed metal barriers over, and people from the crowd were stepping over them.

Thankfully, in the end, Gomez’s security was able to transport the star to her waiting car safely.

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7. Justin Bieber — Dubai (2013)

Dubai, by all accounts, is a unique location to visit. Justin Bieber is one celebrity that is very unlikely to forget his 2013 tour stop in the city, and not for the best reasons either.

E! News confirms that a random male fan found their way to the stage near the end of one of his shows, attempting to grab Bieber while playing the piano.

Bieber was thankfully okay, managing to free himself, and ran to the side of the stage.

Security was quick to react, seizing not just the perpetrator but also the piano, knocking it down in the take-down process.

A representative of Bieber spoke about the incident. “All is fine. A man ran on stage during ‘Believe’ and tried to grab Justin and knocked the piano over. He was a fan. Security detained the young man. All was fine, and Justin continued the show.”

E! News also shared that, according to local reports, “the piano was unplayable for the remainder of the show.”

Bieber returned to the stage after a three-minute break, finishing his concert with “Boyfriend” and “Baby.”

8. Beyoncé — Brazil (2013)

Beyoncé is used to her overexcited fans, but she’s pretty cool with them. She hugs, sings, and dances with them—even allowing them to get touchy-feely. But she was completely caught off guard in Brazil.

According to The Wrap, a wild, shirtless man grabbed and dragged Beyoncé off stage in the middle of her rendition of “Irreplaceable” during one of her 2013 performances.

As scary as it was for many spectators watching this happen, the singer was oddly unbothered by the situation.

Beyoncé immediately resumed performing, barely missing a beat in the song. She even stopped her security from hauling the fan out after they pulled him from her.

“It’s alright. Calm, calm, calm. It’s alright. He just got excited,” she said.

The fan was not only permitted to stay, but he even got to speak to his idol.

“What’s your name?” she asked him. “Thank you, I love you, too.”

After their short conversation, she shook his hand before moving on to the next song. There were no hard feelings.

9. Pitbull — Colorado (2009)

During a 2009 concert in Colorado, Miami rapper Pitbull gets into an altercation with a fan on stage.

According to The Boom Box, the video of the incident shows the fan getting onstage and throwing money in Pitbull’s face before he was pushed back into the audience with a punch to the head from the rapper.

The rowdy man began throwing money on stage; then Pitbull yanked him up from the audience, telling him to stop.

“I’m bringing him onstage to say, ‘Look, this the clown that’s gonna f— up your show,” he said. “I’m getting rid of him. I’m letting y’all know right now. Don’t nobody else make it rain.’ When I bring the mutha—a up on the stage, he throws a wad of money in my face. When he did that, that’s when natural reaction…natural instinct kicked in.”

Pitbull punched the man and continued his song without missing a beat.

“He made me feel [wild] like I felt back in the day [...] When I saw the video, I said, ‘Hell nah. He knew exactly what he was doing.’ In any country when you throw something in somebody’s face, it’s disrespectful. When I looked at the tape, you could see he did that and was waiting like, ‘What now? Yeah mutha—a, I just threw a wad in your face.’”

Security then led the fan out of the venue, letting Pitbull get back to his performance.

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10. Michael Jackson — Seoul, South Korea (1996)

Leave it to Michael to be more worried about his fans than himself.

Little Things reports that during a 1996 performance in Seoul, South Korea, a fan put his life at risk and ran from the audience not just to the stage but to the crane that was lifting Jackson above the audience.

Jackson held on to the fan to make sure he didn’t fall and hurt himself, but he continued to sing and perform while they were in the air out of concern for the fan’s safety.

When the platform lowered again, security escorted the fan off the stage. It was a dangerous approach that could have ended in injuries to either the fan or Jackson, but it’s become a memory that will last a lifetime.

It was quite an unforgettable moment for the overexcited fan, Jackson, and everyone else in attendance.

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Ashley Darkwa-Anto is an editorial intern at YourTango who covers News & Entertainment.