TODAY – Mike Tyson is trying to save himself once again — before it’s too late.
“I won’t survive if I don’t get help,” he told Matt Lauer in a TODAY exclusive interview.
In his first public comments since admitting his latest struggles at a press conference, Tyson, 47, told Lauer he has been sober for 12 days, but that he’s been “mean and irritable” in that time.
“It’s a real challenge because…I don’t know if I like this sober guy.” Tyson said. “It’s hard for me to live normal. Straight is hard. Livin’ straight life is hard.”
The former heavyweight boxing champion spoke with Lauer, making his first public comments since a candid press conference on Aug. 23 in which he revealed an ongoing struggle with substance abuse and admitted to having suicidal thoughts. Tyson, 47, was promoting a fight at the Turning Stone Resort in Verona , N.Y., when the press conference turned into a confessional.
“I’m on the verge of dying because I’m a vicious alcoholic,” Tyson said at the press conference. “I’ve been lying to everybody else that thinks I was sober, but I’m not.”
Between a cameo role in “The Hangover’’ and a successful one-man show called “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” on Broadway, he is in the midst of a career renaissance. His new show, “Being Mike Tyson,” premieres on Fox Sports 1 on Sept. 22 and his HBO show “Undisputed Truth” and memoir of the same name will arrive in November. Still, he told Lauer, he still struggles with demons that have haunted him his whole life.
“Yeah, it is kinda strange and scary,” Tyson said. “I was born that way.”
Despite his admitted failures, Tyson has tried to come to grips with his personal pain.
“Oh, 100 percent,” he told Lauer. “No one failed more than I did. Nobody’s seen more than I’ve seen. I’m the king of the barbarians. There’s no one that could surpass me, and the pain I’ve endured. But I can deal with it. I can handle it.”
When Tyson returned to his old Brownsville, Brooklyn neighborhood for a TV taping, serious emotions came flooding back.
“It told me a lot — I found out a lot about myself,” Tyson told Lauer. “I’m still a scared little boy. Still afraid. I’m very vulnerable. I was very vulnerable. Being in Brownsville, evoking memories and places I’ve done things to people that — shootouts, robberies — and, you know, think of things I may have done to people here.”
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