TODAY   |  August 30, 2013

Mike Tyson: When I’m drunk, I’m not ‘the same guy’

Continuing his in-depth interview with TODAY’s Matt Lauer, legendary boxer Mike Tyson opened up about the extent of his alcoholism, his frequent suicidal thoughts and his struggle to live a normal life.

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

>>> part two of our exclusive interview with mike tyson . the former heavyweight champion opened himself once again to speculation and scrutiny. when we sat down in las vegas , tyson talked about the moment he gave into temptation . his on going battle with alcoholism.

>> i hadn't drank for 4 1/2 years. i took a drink. i mean, i just started chugging them.

>> after 4 1/2 years of sobriety, what got you to take that drink?

>> too much stuff coming at me. i'm doing my auto documentary and everything was creeping up. i started going to my old neighborhood and dealing with old wounds that opened up. it was overwhelmliing.

>> you said were you lying to everyone about being sober. that you're on the verge of dying because you're a vicious alcoholic. did you mean those words? you say people blew it out of proportion. but talk to me about those words.

>> it's the words i use because sometimes i don't want to live when i'm in that state. it's difficult to discuss. i don't know i'm not experienced enough in my recovery to really pinpoint it.

>> i went back and read some interviews you have done over the years and i found references on your part to suicide dating all the way back to the late 1980s . this is something that's come up from time to time in your life. how much do you think about it?

>> not that much. it's just sometimes i -- if i get drunk, i'm just not the same guy. so i just see my friends and sponsors and talk to them.

>> so it's something you have struggled with your whole life.

>> my whole entire life. well, you know, this is so interesting. when i was fighting, i was crazy. i wasn't getting high or drinking. it's hard for me to live normal. straight is hard. living a straight life is hard. smoking a joint and having a drink, thank god, i'm cool. but that's not the life i want to live.

>> so when it comes down to it, when you were fighting, that clean and sober guy was the dpguy you needed to be because there was rage in you.

>> it's a bad guy , man. it's a real bad guy . i don't know why. i got that from my mother. my mother is that way. my mother is real tough. i have a real aggressive mother.

>> what is it about you at this stage in your life when you stopped and thought i have to say sorry to some people.

>> well, i have to say sorry to myself, not to people. and i'm not doing this interview to try to help an alcoholic or help some drug addict . i'm doing it to help me. this is my own self-centered little move here. i need help. i need help real bad because i won't survive if i don't get help.

>> i was reading an interview with you this morning and you were talking about being a dad and you were admitting there were times as a father you weren't the best father. how are you today?

>> i don't know. i don't know how to judge myself. i am just taking care of my kids.

>> do you think you're an attentive father? are you a present father?

>> well, i'm present because i have nowhere else to go, so yeah i'm pretty present today.

>> what do you think your kids would say about you?

>> i don't know. i don't know if my older kids want me to be that close but i'm just happy that we're friends now and respect each other. i still have a long way to go. i didn't give up and they didn't give up on me.

>> they have grown up in a different world with a much different experience than you grew up.

>> pretty much.

>> can you identify with the world they're living in.

>> not at all.

>> do you think they have an idea of the world you inhabited as a kid?

>> no, they don't want to imagine that. it was all sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, more violence, sex, drugs, chaos, alcohol, violence, more violence, more violence. no, they have no idea. they have no idea what it's like not to feel safe at home. they don't know those experiences in life.

>> thank god. it's nice they don't have to know that.

>> i'm really happy that they don't. they have other challenges they have to deal with in society and life.

>> there's certain times, mike, where you get emotional. i watch when you talk about your kids. i watch when you talk about kiki, your wife, where does that emotional side of you come from. you say you get your toughness from your mom. where do you get the emotional side.

>> i don't know. it's just who i am. it's who i am. i hope, if it means i'm like that it's just who i am as a person.

>> don't worry if you share your emotions that people think you're soft?

>> no, they're going to have a pretty big awakening if they believe that.

>> he's not a soft guy, but he is a guy who is obviously struggling between this rough side of him and this more tender side.

>> he said he needs help. who is helping him? anybody?

>> his wife is the major person and support system in his life. she is a pretty amazing woman and we hope he gets the help he needs. no question. meanwhile