Heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson has survived a world of scrutiny as his post-championship career included imprisonment for rape, a face tattoo and other out-of-control behavior. But he told NBC “Today Show” host Matt Lauer and millions of viewers Thursday that his relapse from sobriety and internal demons may kill him.
The newest revelations came during an exclusive interview with NBC that aired Thursday morning. The segment followed up on startling comments Tyson made last week in what was to be a news conference about his new role as a boxing promoter. The retired world champ described himself as “a vicious alcoholic” who had fallen off the wagon six days earlier, had lied to family and friends about his substance abuse, and talked about his fear that he will die without help. Twelve days clean when Lauer taped the interview (Wednesday), Tyson confessed that he wasn’t sure he even liked his sober self.
“It’s a real challenge because I don’t like–I don’t know if I like this sober guy. It’s hard for me to live normal,” Tyson told Lauer. “Straight is hard.”
Tyson’s erratic behavior has often attracted news coverage that eclipsed his sporting career. The Taboo issue of ESPN Magazine just three months ago featured a cover story on Tyson, his tribal tattoo facing the camera, the headline reading: “Mike Tyson: champ, convict, junkie, sage.”
Last week, his anguished relapse comments prompted the press corps to a standing ovation.
“I haven’t drank or took drugs in six days, and for me that’s a miracle. I’ve been lying to everybody else that thinks I was sober, but I’m not,” Tyson announced, according to a Daily News account.
“This is my sixth day. I’m never gonna use again,” a choked up Tyson told members of the media, who applauded his humbling, pained disclosure.
Answering Lauer’s questions about his press conference remarks, about the way he pointed to his head when referring to dark thoughts, Tyson said: “When I start drinking and I relapse, I think of dying. You know what I mean? I’m in a real dark mood. I think of dying. And I don’t know if I wanna be around no more.
“I won’t survive if I don’t get help,” Tyson said.
It was not immediately clear if Tyson was entering treatment.
Photo courtesy NBC