'I ain't the same person I was'

Originally Published: June 28, 2004
ESPN.com news services

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's hard-knocks history of growing up in Brooklyn is well documented. He navigated a bumpy road to the top of his profession in the '80s, got knocked out by Buster Douglas in 1990, served jail time for a rape conviction and seems to have a propensity for bizarre behavior.

Not to mention Tyson, who turns 38 on Wednesday, is in debt up to his eye tattoo.

Tyson told the New York Sun in editions of June 23 that he has been sleeping in homeless shelters and living like a "street bum" since declaring himself bankrupt, and has been accepting handouts from drug dealers.

"For the past two years, I been a bum, truly a bum in the streets," he told the paper.

"I got nowhere to live. I been crashing with friends, sleeping in shelters. Unsavory characters are giving me money and I'm taking it. I need it. The drug dealers, they sympathize with me. They see me as some sort of pathetic character."

Tyson will fight British boxer Danny Williams on July 30 in Louisville, Ky., and hopes to use his winnings from this and six other planned fights to pay his debts.

Though he once had $300 million in the bank, now Tyson is $24.4 million in the red, even after a settlement with promoter Don King that would pay the former champ $14 million.

"When I had money, I was an animal," Tyson told the New York Times last week. "I was so belligerent. I was so cantankerous, so persistently disregardless. I wasn't that nice of a person. Just because you buy mansions and cars doesn't mean you know what money is worth.

"I lost all across the board. My life has been a total waste.''

Tyson, who served three years in jail for rape in the 1990s and who bit off part of Evander Holyfield's ear during a 1997 fight, admits he has changed, though for better or worse isn't easily discernible.

"I know I was a tough, bad-ass talking fighter, but I ain't no mob figure. I did my time for the rape. I paid my money to Las Vegas. I paid my dues," he told the Sun.

"I ain't the same person I was when I bit that guy's ear off."

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