Exodus Tragedy Is Latest Curse for Mike Tyson

Mike Tyson and those around him have been plagued by bad fortune.

May 26, 2009, 6:07 PM

May 27, 2009 — -- He was the undisputed boxing heavyweight champion of the world, earning an estimated $300 million over the course of his career, but life has never come easy for Mike Tyson.

Starting with the father he once called a pimp, who walked out on the family when Tyson was 2, the ex-champ has grappled with heartbreak and misfortune.

His latest calamity involves his four-year-old daughter Exodus, who died Tuesday afternoon, a day after a "tragic accident" in which she was found hanging from a cord attached to an exercise treadmill.

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"We are grateful for the tremendous outpouring of love and prayers from all over the world. There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus. We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal," Tyson said in a statement provided to ABCNews.com.

Throughout his life, Tyson, 42, has lost family members, friends, money, titles, women and his own self-respect, but he has never lost a child before.

Exodus was the youngest of Tyson's six children by an assortment of ex-wives and girlfriends. It's been reported that Tyson was living in a modest Phoenix home with the mother of Exodus and her 7-year-old brother, believed to be Miguel, who found his little sister unconscious. It remains unclear whether Tyson and Exodus' mother were ever married or what their current relationship is.

In an interview with MTV last month, Tyson stressed that family had become his first priority over fame and fortune. "I would give all that up, if it caused me... losing what I have now: That little condo with my girlfriend and my daughter, and having a relationship with the rest of my kids," he said.

When James Toback, the director of the new documentary "Tyson", heard about the tragedy involving Exodus, he told a reporter, "Oh my God. Oh, my God. This is horrendous. ... There is no more careful a mother."

Toback said he has footage that shows how much both parents dote on Exodus.

With "Tyson," which takes a sympathetic look at the former boxer's life, in theaters now and a memoir in the works, Tyson's advisers, according to the New York Times, had hoped to reintroduce him to the public and launch some sort of post-boxing career.

Once again, tragedy threatens to overshadow Tyson's success.

Tyson has spoken at length about his difficult childhood. Growing up in Brooklyn with a brother and sister, Tyson was raised by his single mother, Lorna Smith, who struggled to make financial ends meet.

Contrary to his fearsome image in the ring, Tyson as a child was known in the neighborhood as a "big wuss," he told ABC News Now's Peter Travers, adding that he lost count of the times "when I was little I used to get the s*** kicked out of me."

He told Travers that he got into his first fight over a pigeon. A collector of exotic pigeons, Tyson remembered punching a boy who killed one of his pigeons and sprayed the bird's blood all over his shirt.

By the age of 13, Tyson had been arrested 38 times and was shipped to reform school in upstate New York.

"My mother didn't have any hopes of me as a young kid," he told Travers.

Through the school, Tyson met up with legendary fight trainer Cus D'Amato, who turned the scrappy youth into the heavyweight champion of the world. In 1986, at the age of 20, "Iron Mike" became the youngest man ever to win the top three world heavyweight titles. Unfortunately, his mother, who died when he was 16, didn't live to see it.

With success came controversy.

In February 1988, Tyson married actress Robin Givens. Their mismatch ended eight months later with accusations of physical abuse (her) and fraud (him) and reportedly cost Tyson $10 million.

"I never thought it affected me, but internally I clammed up," Tyson told Travers about the famous interview the couple gave to Barbara Walters at the tail end of their troubled marriage.

At the time, money appeared to have an endless supply. When Tyson crashed his Bentley convertible in a minor traffic accident in 1988, he reportedly told the police officers at the scene, "I've had nothing but bad luck and accidents with this car. You guys take this car and keep it."

Then, in 1992, Tyson was sent to prison for three years after he was convicted for raping 18-year-old beauty queen Desiree Washington.

"It was just a wild experience, having these different personalities in one congested and contained room, just a bomb waiting to explode," he told Travers about his prison experience.

Coming out of prison, Tyson signed an agreement with Don King, the flamboyant fight promoter, that would give him 30 percent of his earnings, according to the Washington Post.

He regained a portion of the heavyweight title, before losing it to Evander Holyfield in a 1996 fight. In their notorious 1997 rematch, Tyson bit a chunk out of Holyfield's ear and was disqualified from the fight and his boxing license was revoked for a year.

After going through a psychological evaluation ordered by the Nevada Athletic Commission, it was learned that Tyson was "experiencing a significant depression," in part because of his financial problems.

Tyson reportedly earned over $300 million during his boxing career, but lost most of it to ex-wives, a lavish lifestyle that included dozens of hangers-on and shady managers who got rich because of him. He has accused King of bilking him out of millions of dollars.

In 2002, Tyson a lack of funds prevented him from paying his second wife, Monica Turner, the mother of two of his children, $10 million in a divorce settlement.

Owing $13 million in back taxes in 2003, Tyson filed for bankruptcy. Recently, he's been working with former Muhammad Ali associates to dig himself out of the hole. They've been involved in both the film and book projects, neither of which has been easy for the former champ.

"It evoked a lot of feelings I had never liked to come to face with, that I still deal with as demons…and say this is who I am and I don't like that person," Tyson told Travers about seeing the film. "I look at me now and look at that guy, look at my outbursts and think 'oh, I'm afraid of that guy.'"

"I try so hard to forget those memories," he added. "Once I go to those memories I go to liquor, drugs, getting high, because there is no recapturing that experience."

Tyson's years of drug and alcohol abuse caught up with him in 2006 when he was arrested for a DUI and drug possession after nearly crashing into a police vehicle. He went to rehab in 2007 in lieu of prison time and in a recent interview said he had been sober for two and a half years.

What Tyson had been looking forward to most in life was spending more time with his children. "I' m really trying to work into recreating my relationship, rebuilding my relationship with my children," he told MTV last month. "I neglected my children and people I was in love with at one time, and I'm bearing the brunt of it right now. At this stage in my life I'm starting to feel the pain and the effects from it, and I would like to rekindle that relationship."

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