As Mike Tyson returns to the ring, a look back at his tumultuous past

The former undisputed world heavyweight champion is set to return for an exhibition match against former champion Roy Jones Jr. "Nightline" co-anchor Byron Pitts catches up with Tyson about life.
8:07 | 11/25/20

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Transcript for As Mike Tyson returns to the ring, a look back at his tumultuous past
Just at a glance, looking at your life, arrested 38 times by age 13, heavyweight champion of the world by 20, convicted of rape by age 30. You've lived so many lives. Yeah, that's true. And there's people who have had worse. In spite of, they sti succeeded. So I'm nobody. I've been a millionaire most of my life, I'm good. I learned gratitude. What I learned from life kicking my ass, I learned gratitude. Reporter: Mike Tyson today seems a very different man from the one many of us remember. For two decades, he was a king. Boxing royalty. A once-undisputed world heavyweight champion. Tyson attacks immediately! Reporter: Iron Mike. His kroeshs ferocious and intimidating boxing style earned him the title "The baddest man on the planet." Both inside the ring and out. You are a complicated dude. I'm Ed up. Reporter: Now 15 years later, at 54 years old -- I'm back! Reporter: Tyson is making his return to the ring in an exhibition fight against fellow former champ Roy Jones Jr. This is the exhibition, but things happen when two men get in the ring and we throw punches. What happens? The unwritten clause in our contract, that any time during training and fighting, you can that's a great possibility. That we wish don't happen, we hope don't happen. The old Mike Tyson, I would imagine, was okay of the idea, are you having to die to be successful, but not Mike Tyson today? But that guy, he didn't have any self-love, self-respect. So of course he don't want to live. This is a different guy, right? So much more I want to do for other people. Reporter: Part of Tyson's motivation in returning to the ring is the launch of his new initiative "Legends only league," a chance for retired athletes to come together and face off once more. This is how it all came to par, because I was looking at this story. This story is about Jerry rice, too old to be playing wide receiver. And he was just a few seconds off of his time, but he can play. But still, ask anybody who would they rather see play? Y rice or th guy that played his position -- that's playing his position right now? You know? On a team that he played with? And you would get overwhelmingly they want to see Jerry rice. There's a season for all things. You allow that season to exist, yes. Reporter: Mike Tyson has passed through many a season. Braized in Brownsville in Brooklyn, New York, where poverty and violence were neighbors. No stranger to street crime, Tyson was arrested more than 30 times by the age of 12. Eventually he was introduced to legendary trainer and boxing manager Gus demottau who molded Tyson into a boxer. Made history becoming the youngest heavyweight champion of all time at age 20. A big win for Mike Tyson! Reporter: From there he became a worldwide phenomenon. I remember once covering, ago, a mudslide in Honduras, thousands dead. We see this one man. He's running like he's going into his house to rescueps his wife, a child, a pet. You know who he's running in the house to rescue? What's that? A picture this big of Muhammad Ali. A picture about this big of you. Are you serious? Yes. Wow. You know -- I don't know how to answer those questions. When people put me in that -- I don't know, pedestal, you'll say. It's just really -- I don't know, I don't look at myself in the light people look at me. Reporter: People have always looked at him many times not positively. There was this tumultuous marriage to actress robin givens in 1988 that spiraled him to that infamous interview with Barbara Walters, where givens accused him of domestic violence on national television. He shakes, he pushes, he -- he swings. Reporter: Their marriage ended in divorce shortly after. Years later, Tyson told Oprah he had been violent towards his Was it an abuive Oh, definitely. Definitely. Reporter: In another inglorious chapter of his life -- Did the jury buy your story? Reporter: Tyson found himself in an Indianapolis courtroom in 1992, accused of raping an 18-year-old beauty contestant, Desiree Washington, found guilt and sent to prison. Tyson was given six years beginning immediately. Reporter: Released after less than six years, he returned to the ring. Two years later heiolently bit the year of evander Holyfield during their match which resulted in the suspension of his boxing license. 2005 he left the sport behind. Eventually finding a new home in Hollywood. Quiet, quiet! Reporter: Thanks to a famous cameo in "The hangover." Mike Tyson? Shh! This is my favorite part coming up right now. A stranger to you and mow Reporter: On and off set, addiction ruled his life. Rock bottom came with it. A bunch of times, you know, my wife snapped me out of it and stuff, you know, fixed me up. Hey, hot boxing, I'm Mike Tyson -- Reporter: These days Tyson cohosts a podcast andoversees the Tyson ranch, a company that promotes cannabis-based products. Tyson says his most important title now, family man. Nice to meet you, sir. Shake his hand, Rocco, look look at his eyes. Old-school fathering. You have to start with self-respect. You have to learn to treat people the way you treat yourself and the way you want to be treated. All the stuff that's in here. Reporter: His daughter Milan is a promising tennis player. Do you counsel her yet about the trappings of athletic success? She's just different. She's not what I was when I was a kid. When she lose a game, she goes back to a multimillion-dollar house. When I lose, I go BAC to juvenile detention. Could you have imagined 30 years ago that Mike Tyson, boxing champion, would become Mike suburban dad, husband? Look. Life has beaten me in submission. I'm this guy because I'm unable to successfully be that That I was before. So I'm trying to got other way now. How's that going for you? I have struggled but it's really good. Really good, really good,eally good Reporter: In the "Me too" era, Mike Tyson's own story might have ended with the rape conviction. There would be perhaps no second but to this day he continues to fasc G the couches of late-night television. Hinting at future fights. Fans and critics all still waiting, watching his next move. Why do you think so many people on this Earth still are so engaged, so curious about Mike Tyson? Listen. I don't know. I got all kind of records. I got the rape, I got some sex cases, I got some violence stuff on my record. I have no idea. Reporter: Perhaps we're so drawn to him because in many ways there may be a little bit of Mike Tyson in all of us. Flashes of brilliance, brokenness, triumph and trouble. Flawed, failings frozen in time. And many days in between, simply doing the best he can. Success for me is -- success for me is being responsible and being present. Thatcess to me. Our thanks to Mike and his wife, Kiki.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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