This week marks the publication of Mike Tyson’s no-holds-barred memoir, Undisputed Truth. The book is an honest account of the boxer’s rise to fame, from his early Brooklyn days, when he often had to steal just to eat, to his status as pop culture icon. In this exclusive excerpt, Tyson recalls his days of multitasking with his criminal friends back home and celebrities like Rick James and Anthony Michael Hall.
A lot of my friends from Brownsville wound up incarcerated in Otisville, which was not too far from Catskill. I had gone to school with most of the people who worked at the prison there, so when I’d go up there to visit my friends who were in jail, I wasn’t going to the visiting room, I would hang out with them in their cells, because I knew the warden and all the guards. I gave my friends the shoes off my feet, the jewelry off my neck, and the guards were all looking the other way. One time, I was walking through the range, where the cells were, and I saw Little Spike from the Bronx who had been locked up with me in Spofford. Now he’s not so little, he’s a monster.
“Yo, Mike. What’s up, man? What are you doing?” he shouted.
He thought I had been busted again and they were taking me to a cell.
I was living this crazy dual life. One day visiting friends in their prison cells, the next day hanging out with Rick James. I met him at a party for some new movie. We were at a big club, maybe a thousand people were there, but you’re going to notice Rick James. I didn’t know whether he was a celebrity, a musician, or a gangster. Right around then he had made a lot of money from Hammer sampling him on “U Can’t Touch This,” so Rick was back in business.
Next time I saw him I was in the lobby of a hotel on Sunset Boulevard. I was sitting outside with Ricky Schroder and Alfonso Ribeiro from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, just chilling. Ricky was probably 16 then and Alfonso was maybe 17. But we’re sitting there drinking, and I looked up and I saw a convertible Cornice Rolls-Royce pull up and Rick get out. He was wearing a loud shirt with a tie, but the tie wasn’t tied and the shirt was unbuttoned. He came over to us, slapped me five, and then he looked at Alfonso.
“Aren’t you an actor?” he said and then, boom, he hit him.
“Gimme that fucking beer,” he said and grabbed Alfonso’s beer.
“Rick, this is a kid, you can’t hit this guy like that,” I protested.
He just took that bottle and swigged from it. He didn’t care if the kid had herpes. I’m sure Rick did.
“What’s up, nigga?” he said to me.
Rick just didn’t give a fuck. He once was working on some music with Eddie Murphy and he was over at Eddie’s house. I went in and Eddie came up to me.
“Mike, this nigga’s put his feet on my chairs,” Eddie said. He was complaining about Rick. Eddie had an immaculate house; everything had to be just right. And Rick was putting his smelly feet up on the chairs and they had asked him to stop, but Rick didn’t give a shit.
“Fuck this. I can do what I want,” he said.
So Charlie, Eddie’s brother, went over to Rick.
“Motherfucker, this ain’t no joke up here,” he said and started choking Rick to restrain him. That didn’t go over too well with Rick. He got up and dusted himself off. And when Charlie turned his back to him, Rick called out.
Charlie turned around and POW, Rick hit him so hard that you could see the impression “RJ” from Rick’s big diamond ring on Charlie’s face. The next day, I went back to Eddie’s house and Eddie and Charlie were marveling over the fact that Prince and his guys had kicked their ass playing basketball. Prince had on his high heel shoes and he was still hitting every bucket. Swoosh. Swoosh.
But if I had to credit one person for mentoring me in the ways of celebrityhood it has to be Anthony Michael Hall, of all people. When I was coming up in fame, before I became champ, I’d hang with him a lot. He was the man. He was the first guy I knew who had celeb money. And he was burning it up, man, with limos everywhere. He was so generous. So when I crashed my Caddy, I went out and bought a limo because I had seen how cool it was when we’d ride around in Michael’s.
I used that limo to go to Eddie Murphy’s New Year’s Eve party in 1987 at his New Jersey mansion. It was a star-studded party with Al B. Sure!, Bobby Brown, Run-DMC, and Heavy D. I was cocky but I was still a little shy. But not too shy to pile three girls in the back of the limo and take them home that night to Catskill.
My days of abstinence were over. I was an extremist at everything I did, including sex. Once I started banging women, the floodgates opened. Short, tall, sophisticated, ugly, high society, street girls, my criteria was breathing. But I still had no line and for the most part didn’t know how to approach women. So friends would help out. I once mentioned that I had a crush on Lisa Bonet. Tom Patti and I had met this woman who managed Bill Cosby at Columbus one night and she set up a meeting for Lisa and me on the set of The Cosby Show. On the set there was a break, and Lisa came over and someone introduced us, but I was such a pussy, I hid behind Tom’s shoulder the whole time. It was fun to be on the set, but nothing came out of that.
Copyright © 2013 by Tyrannic Literary Company LLC. Reprinted from Undisputed Truth, by Mike Tyson with Larry Sloman, published by Blue Rider Press.