By Lauren Effron
Former boxing heavyweight champ Mike Tyson said his role in “The Hangover,” the hit 2009 film about three groomsmen and their drunken Vegas debauchery, actually helped him become sober and get his life back on track.
Tyson, who has had three stints in rehab for substance abuse, said he was still in a “dark place” when the movie was filming. But after it came out, he said one day he was swarmed by a tour group full of kids, who hugged him and asked him all sorts of questions about his “Hangover” performance, in which he played himself as the owner of a stolen white Bengal tiger.
“That changed everything for me, which I’m so appreciative,” Tyson, 46, said. “That was just some good stuff.”
In a brutally honest interview with “Nightline” anchor Terry Moran, Tyson opened up about his turbulent past, dealing with substance abuse and moving forward. The champ said he has been sober for over three years now, but still grapples with his demons every day.
“I’m just constantly working on turning. It doesn’t happen overnight,” he said. “I may have a good few years in me but it’s still not out of me. You still have to work consistently. Every moment of the day you have to work because your demons always — that’s who you are.”
After years of reigning supreme in the boxing ring, Tyson’s career has been marked by struggle and heartache. Tyson served a three-year sentence in the ’90s for a rape conviction, a crime he still denies he committed.
“I didn’t do that,” Tyson said. “I’m never going to say I did something I didn’t do… I’m just so happy that it’s over.”
The champ’s boxing career then suffered another major blow in 1997 when he bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight. He has been married three times, and has sought treatment for his issues with drugs and alcohol abuse.
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