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Last week was almost like a victory tour for Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion. He appeared on Fox Sports 1 to talk about his upcoming six-part series on his life, and he staged his first boxing card as a promoter.
He appeared in great spirits and in command of a life that just four years ago, seemed in total disarray.
According to Tyson himself, however, his life is still in a bad place. On Friday, speaking to reporters, he was asked about a meeting with his former assistant trainer, Teddy Atlas. Tyson and Atlas, now an ESPN boxing analyst, have been enemies for years. Atlas was scheduled to call the fights on ESPN2 on Friday that Tyson was promoting.
In an emotional and sometimes hard-to-hear confession, Tyson said he has been lying about being sober and has only been off drugs and alcohol for six days.
Atlas pulled a gun on Tyson in 1983 after Tyson made sexual advances toward Atlas' 11-year-old niece.
Tyson decided he had to apologize to Atlas, but admitted it wasn't easy.
I knew there was a possibility I would be here with Teddy and I didn't have a good thought of mind about that at first because I'm negative and I'm dark and I want to do bad stuff. I want to hang out in this neighborhood alone (as he tapped his forehead). That's dangerous to hang out in this neighborhood alone up here. Right? It wants to kill everything. It wants to kill me, too. I went to my AA meeting and I had to make a discussion to check out what we're going to do.
So I explained to them, my fellow alcoholics and junkies, that I was going to deal with this certain situation. And I explained the feelings that I evoked from it, almost like, hmm, almost like a Hatfield and McCoy, I explained to them.
I made the right decision [to apologize]. I made [mentor and former trainer] Cus [D'Amato] proud of me. I made myself proud.
Tyson said he is seeking forgiveness from those he's hurt and said he has to forgive those who have hurt him. He said it is hard because he is a bad person who has done many very bad things.
He described himself in terms that made him sound like a monster.
I'm a bad guy sometimes. I did a lot of bad things and I wanted to be forgiven. In order for me to be forgiven, and I hope they forgive me, I had to change my life. I want to live a different life now. I want to live my sober life. I don't want to die.
At that point, Tyson transitioned to his problems with drugs and alcohol. The story he has been telling for the last four years is that he has cleaned up his act. He has traveled the country doing a one-man show, discussing his life in blunt terms, almost as if to unburden himself.
The tour was symbolic of the new, clean Tyson admitting his mistakes and erasing the past by talking about it very candidly.
But he said Friday things have changed in a bad way and that he hasn't been honest about his sobriety.
I'm on the verge of dying because I'm a vicious alcoholic. I've been … Wow. I've been ... Well, this is some interesting stuff. I've been … I haven't drank or took drugs in six days. For me, that's a miracle. I was lying to everybody else who thinks I'm sober, but I'm not. This is my sixth day. I'm never going to use again.
As he spoke, he held up six fingers and began to whimper, his voice cracking. It was hard not to feel devastated for him, as it appears that all of the supposed progress of the last four years was a well-packaged lie. Addicts become very good at lying and it appears that Tyson is another of them.
Tyson needs a lot of things, but nothing more than peace in his life.
Here's hoping he finds it.