TODAY   |  August 29, 2013

Mike Tyson: ‘I don't know if I like this sober guy’

The former heavyweight champ gets honest with TODAY’s Matt Lauer, holding back nothing while discussing his latest battles with addiction, and the demons that still haunt him.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> hour with matt's exclusive conversation with former heavyweight champ , mike tyson . matt, good morning again.

>> mike tyson has never been shy about expressing his feelings and emotions in public. but last week's press conference was candid even by mike's standards. he admitted to falling off the wagon, to having thoughts of suicide and even said he's not sure how much longer he'll be alive. it's clear that whether he's battling an opponent in the ring or demons in his own head, mike tyson pulls no punches.

>> when i start drinking and i relapse, i think of dying. i'm in a real dark mood, i think of dying. and i don't know. i don't want to be around no more.

>> reporter: mike tyson is known as a brutal competitor. iron mike in the boxing ring . but it was his brutal honesty last week that has people talking.

>> i won't survive if i don't get help.

>> reporter: turning a press conference that was supposed to be about his first night as a boxing promoter into a public confessional.

>> i'm on the verge of dying because i'm a vicious alcoholic.

>> reporter: the former heavyweight champion went off script. and into the deepest recesses of his psyche.

>> i'm negative. and i'm dark. and i want to do bad stuff.

>> reporter: one of the moments of the press conference that struck me, and i watched it a couple of times, you pointed at your head. and you said, it's dangerous to hang out in this neighborhood. alone.

>> alone, yes.

>> up here, right? it wants to kill everything. it wants to kill me. all i could think of was what a tough way to go through life on a daily basis, kind of fearing what's going on in your own head.

>> i'm so happy you don't have to go through that. yeah. it is kind of strange and scary.

>> reporter: how long has that been going on?

>> i was born that way.

>> reporter: during the candid press conference, tyson confessed his latest sins. falling off the wagon. and lying to friends and family about it.

>> i've been sober 12 days now. it's tough. i'm mean and irritable.

>> reporter: at the press conference it had been six days. you said this is heavy stuff here. i looked at your face as you were saying it. it looked like it was a real challenge for you to get through those six days.

>> yeah. 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. straight is hard.

>> reporter: tyson 's wife kiki is trying to keep him on that straight path.

>> when's our anniversary?

>> june 10th . no. june --

>> you got the right month.

>> i'm sorry. 6th?

>> june 6th .

>> all right!

>> reporter: cameras captured moments from their marriage for the new documentary series "being mike tyson ." which also takes him back to his old neighborhood in brooklyn.

>> in one scene we go to the school that's right down the street from our old neighborhood. and we go in there, and it reminds me of prison. it's just no -- it's just chaotic. it's no control. people go nuts. the kids are beautiful. you know, and i'm just saying, wow, this is me at one point. i didn't know -- you know, i didn't really think --

>> reporter: you're smiling about it. you didn't seem to mind it too much.

>> no. it was fun. i found out a lot about myself.

>> reporter: like?

>> i'm a very scared young boy .

>> reporter: i'm listening to you say that, mike. i'm thinking, this is the guy i watched terrorize opponents in the ring. and he's telling me he's a scared little boy . and it just doesn't make sense.

>> i'm very vulnerable, you know. i was very vulnerable. being in brownville, evoking memories.

>> reporter: tyson has made amends to many old friends. and even some old foes.

>> oh, i'm in the dream day after day .

>> reporter: but some things he won't apologize for. i've heard you take responsibility over the years for a lot of bad behavior. i've never heard you talk and say you want to take responsibility or even apologize for what happened with desiree washington . i'm curious if you're at that stage in your life now.

>> well, i don't really think i have to make amends to that. because i've done nothing. i really didn't do anything to her. i didn't rape her. i didn't beat her. i didn't do anything to her. and i'm not going to make amends. i made amends to myself. but to her, no.

>> reporter: tyson was convicted on rape charges and spent three years in prison. so does that period in your life haunt you?

>> not as much as it used to.

>> reporter: explain that to me.

>> it just doesn't. it really doesn't. it just doesn't no more. i'm at peace with myself pretty much.

>> reporter: and he shows it. in the upcoming hbo special "undisputed truth," a recording of the one man show he has performed on stages around the world. in it he shares the advice hetrainer.

>> and you remember, mike, be careful how you fight your fight. the way you fight your wife is the way you live your life .

>> you said one time one of the things you learned is that to succeed greatly you have to be willing to fail greatly.

>> oh, 100%. 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 pass me in the pain i've endured.

>> reporter: that brings up obviously tough memories for you, that pain.

>> yeah. that's probably so. but i can deal wit. i can handle it.

>> you're going to see a lot more of mike tyson in the coming months. the show premieres on fox sports on september 22nd . he's got a memoir and show on hbo coming in november. this interview went on and on. we'll put the entire thing online on today.com. guys, back to you.

>> matt, it's so extraordinary to watch. he's a controversial figure. hated by some. but to see him so raw. how did it strike you?

>> he is in complete conflict in his own mind. you heard him contradict himself. he said, i'm at peace with myself. but earlier in the interview he said he can't live with the guy he is and doesn't know how much longer he'll be alive. so there is an awful lot going on inside his mind. and i think sometimes it confuses even him.

>> matt, thank you. an extraordinary interview. as you said, we'll put the whole thing online. see you back here in new york tomorrow.