May 24, 2010 — -- After months of keeping a low profile, Jesse James broke his silence, saying he still loves Sandra Bullock and never meant to hurt his Oscar-winning wife or his family.
"I've spent my whole life with the kids and with her trying to ... protect her from everything, but the most hurt she's ever been caused is by the person that wanted to protect her," James told Vicki Mabrey of ABC News' "Nightline." "It's terrible, and she's going to be hurt for a long time."
James revealed his side of the story and opened up on his past, his time in rehab and what made him cheat, in his first television appearance since news of his affairs came out in March and his marriage to Bullock dissolved.
Watch the exclusive interview with Jesse James on Tuesday, May 25, on "Good Morning America," and then see more on a special edition of "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET/PT.
When Mabrey asked why he would hurt a woman who stood onstage at the Golden Globe Awards and the SAG Awards and told the world how much she loved him, James said: "It's hard for me to talk about, a little bit, because I still really love her and care about her."
The 41-year-old West Coast Choppers owner has kept a low profile since a string of women came forward claiming to have slept with him. The first reports of James' infidelity came less than two weeks after Bullock, 45, took home the best actress Oscar for her role in "The Blind Side."
James admits he shattered a seemingly perfect relationship.
I "took a pretty amazing life and amazing success and marriage ... and threw it away by my own hands," he said.
But in the midst of his affair, James told Mabrey, he wanted to get caught.
"When I was doing it, you know, one, I knew it was horrible, it made me feel horrible. And two, I knew I would get caught eventually, and I think I wanted to get caught," he said. "I know for a fact now what it was, you know. I mean, it was me trying to self-sabotage my life."
Jesse James Jokes on Being the Tabloid Villain
Shortly after, James became the villain of the tabloids for cheating on "America's sweetheart." When asked by Mabrey if he's the "most hated man in America," as magazine headlines labeled him, James wryly commented: "I think the 'most hated man in the world,' now."
James responded to the many other questions people have been wondering about: Did Bullock know any of it was going on? What did he really go to rehab for? And what role will he play in the life of Louis, the baby boy Bullock recently adopted?
At one point in the interview, James teared up and asked Mabrey for a moment to collect himself.
James checked into a rehab facility to seek help for "personal issues" in late March. He also publicly apologized to Bullock, his wife of nearly five years, and his three kids.
Vicki Mabrey's exclusive interview with Jesse James airs Tuesday May 25, 2010 at 11:35pm ET/PT on a special-edition of "Nightline."