Director Spike Lee calls Mike Tyson the most honest human being he's ever met, explaining that while most people don't tend to display the dark parts of themselves, Tyson faces them with an emotional nakedness.
Tyson's staggering honesty about his life of drug abuse, boxing fame, womanizing, acting career and criminal activities is laid out without hesitation or appeal for pity in the DVD release "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" that hits stores Tuesday. The program, which originally aired as an HBO special, features Iron Mike in a one-man stage show filmed at the Imperial Theatre in New York City and directed by Lee.
The stage show existed long before Lee got involved. Tyson's wife, Kiki, wrote it after the couple saw Chaz Palminteri's one-man show, "A Bronx Tale."
"I said to my wife, 'Baby, I can do this.' Because this is basically what I do when I'm in Europe and Asia. I'm on stage, but people ask me questions and I tell them about my life, and everything that happened," Tyson says. "She started writing about me. At first she'd write from a wife's perspective. You know, like, 'He wasn't that bad.' I said, 'No, baby, that's not it.'
"And so I told her who I was back then, and she wrote in her own uncanny way and it came out to be real successful."
The show looks at how Tyson grew up without parental supervision (never knowing for certain the identity of his father), the disastrous marriage to actress Robin Givens, his beast-like approach to opponents in the ring, his rape conviction and how acting roles have introduced him to an audience that never saw him fight.
Over the years, Tyson took a lot of punches, but no one ever hit him in the ring with the same explosiveness as events in his life.
"You can heal from a punch, a broken jaw," Tyson says. "But emotional scars don't heal. They are always inside you."
Tyson, 47, is able to publicly face his demons because he's at the most positive place in his life. He continues to fight a winning battle against drug addiction, loves and (more importantly) respects his wife and strives every day to be the best father possible to his children.
The one-man show isn't some cathartic form of public therapy. Getting clean and sober was Tyson's first step to this better place in his life.
He hopes anyone who sees the show will know that while it is hard to get up when you have been knocked down so many times, the ability to rise up and change your life is out there. You just have to take the first step.
Tyson continues to work on being more open and accessible. He often gets stopped on the street by young fans of movies like "The Hangover" who tell him they like his acting. It's their parents who have to tell them about Tyson's boxing days.
Acting roles especially in the one-man show have allowed Tyson to show off his sense of humor something he never revealed during his boxing days. Tyson couldn't show his funny side while he was boxing because that would have worked against his image as being the scariest man to ever get into a ring.
His association with boxing should grow again as his Iron Mike Productions is looking to put together fight cards. It's all part of Tyson's story that continues to unfold beyond what's featured in the DVD.
Tyson says he wouldn't change anything, even if he could.
"If I changed it, I wouldn't have this life that I have now that's pretty awesome. And not many regrets that I have in life. Not many. Not many. I wish I was a better father. But I guess that comes along with me being the father that I am now. But I don't know. I don't have many regrets."
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.