Tyson on his game for 'Undisputed'

The room became dark at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, where Jay-Z lyrics in the song, "Ni**as In Paris," repeated loudly.

"Jackson, Tyson, Jordan, Game Six," looped on the sound system. And then just, "Tyson. Tyson. Tyson."

The crowd cheered for the former heavyweight champion of the world, who moments later appeared on the stage under the spotlight and talked about his roller-coaster life.

Mike Tyson's, "The Undisputed Truth," premiered in L.A. Friday night. It was in Orange County last week.

Tyson delivers a raw telling of his life, that reveals tragedy and triumph, carelessness and comedy, and much more.

Throughout the show he reminds you that he was loved and vilified. He talks about his time in jail, not too foreign from the experience of being, "born in hell," and growing up on the tough streets of Brownsville, N.Y. He stole as a means for survival just as much as he did for credibility among his peers. The local juvenile detention center became a second home and eventually a training ground for one of the greatest fighters in the history of boxing.

Even after fame and success he became hooked on drugs. He battled obesity, failed marriages and the death of his daughter.

Before walking into the theater he stood outside, talking to reporters, posing in front of cameras. He appeared happy, content even. Tyson said with "Undisputed" he's a showman. But he admits there's more to his story than art and entertainment.

"I'm just here entertaining people," Tyson said. "But when you look at the situation, and you see my life, where I started, where I went, where I descended to again. And you see where I'm going now. And it shows that it doesn't matter about anything. I don't care if you sick, you got cancer, you have AIDS. Whatever. Don't give up. Don't lay down because society said you have no hope. Continue to fight. Continue to have your dreams in your mind and never give up."

Celebrities came to watch Tyson to tell his story, the one directed by Spike Lee who was also in attendance on Friday night. Charlize Theron, David Arquette, Juliette Lewis and Dennis Miller were among them.

Jim Gray, a sports commentator, was also in the audience, as was comedian Jeffrey Ross.

"I was curious," Ross said of why he came to watch Tyson. "I'm fascinated by controversial figures. And when someone like Mike Tyson says I'm going to turn that into art, I got curious. And with Spike Lee's endorsement I knew it would be fascinating theater.

"Plus Mike Tyson showed up at my shows. So I'm here. I owe him."

Ross, known for his comical jabs during roast parties, stopped short of dishing out jokes about Tyson.

"It's his night tonight so I'll let him off the hook," Ross said.

Instead it was Tyson delivering the punch lines and gaining laughs, like when he talked about his first wife, Robin Givens.

Some people just chuckled when Tyson later said he found freedom when he went to prison for a rape charge he continues to deny committing. And they were in awe and cheered when Tyson talked about being the youngest boxer to become the heavyweight champion, at the age of 20.

There were a few adolescents in the audience. But that didn't stop Tyson from using profanity or sharing vulgar stories about his past.

In addition to the show, Tyson shared that his life today and his family have made him very happy.

"My success is different from most people's success," he said. "Most people want finance, or they want sexual gratification, or they want to live on their own terms. My success is staying out of prison. My success is being faithful to my wife and not giving her a venereal disease. Being awake and being conscious about my wonderful children. Seeing something I never done before."

In short, Tyson said he has become a man. He said this before the show.

"I was told that if I want something I never had, I have to do what I never done and that's what I'm doing," he said. "I've never been a man before. Even though my conduct may have seemed manly I never been a man in responsibility, in my conduct or in my spirit.

"It may look cool and manly knocking people out and talking [mess], but what's going to happen when you have problems? When your baby is sick or your baby is dead? How are you going to handle that? Are you going to take it out on your wife and kids? Or are you going to internalize and kill yourself? Those are the choices you're going to have to make. Are you going to have love in your heart and keep moving?"

During the show, Tyson talked about he knew he was a hated man. However, through the show, he has taken on a new image. He's a better man than what his past shows.

"I think about my life," he said. "I was born in hell, and every step of accomplishment or a step like this [show] is one step out of hell. I stepped out of hell, but I dropped and I fell back. And now I'm stepping out again."


Twitter: @SteveVirgen

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