During his three-year incarceration at an Indiana prison, Mike Tyson received visits from some of the biggest names in entertainment.
“I had everybody. B.B. King, James Brown, Whitney Houston … Florence Henderson. Everybody came,” he said in a recent interview Drink Champs. “I can’t even name them all. Just so many people came to visit me.”
Though there’s no doubt that the A-list visitors caused a stir within the facility, there was one star who received a surprisingly warm welcome from inmates: the late Tupac Shakur.
“I get a call from somebody; it’s 2Pac’s mother,” he recalled. “She explains how she knows me from her son, explains that I met him at a club one night and that he wants to come and visit me. I said great, OK.”
Tyson, who was locked up in Indiana between 1992-1995, said Pac came to the facility shortly after and was greeted by a round of applause.
“Once he came into the visiting room—and there was all these hillbilly hicks, mean motherfuckin’ aryan guys—as soon as he came up everybody started clapping. They respected him, soon as he came in the room, they started applauding.”
Tyson said he met Pac six months earlier at an after-party at the Hollywood Palladium. He claimed he saw a youngster outside the venue and invited him in. But before the “kid” went inside, he went and got his group of friends, which included Pac.
“He went and came back with, like, 50 people,” Tyson said. “2Pac was one of those guys. So we went and let them through the back, and somehow they got on the stage, took the mic, started rapping, and I met 2Pac.”
Tyson was later asked to share his thoughts on the East Coast-West Coast hip-hop rivalry—specifically the highly publicized feud between fellow Brooklyn native Biggie and 2Pac.
“I thought it was ridiculous. And that’s what it was. It was two people in their feelings too much,” he said. “I knew it was gonna end really bad. I knew it wasn’t gonna end nice, and it didn’t.”
Tyson, who also knew Biggie, said he never got caught up in the beef because he treats “people the way I wanted to be treated. It has nothing to do with fear.”
The boxing champ went on to explain how hip-hop impacted his life while growing up in NYC. He recalls the reaction the genre garnered during its early days, as many associated the music with dangerous crime. But Tyson insists he was never scared of the culture, and that it actually gave him a sense of pride.
“That’s our music …” he said. “Hip-hop created a new species of person.”
“And that person was embodied in Mike Tyson?” DJ EFN interjected.
“In him, and you—don’t put it all on me,” Tyson said, before pointing to individual audience members. “And that’s what it is. It created a new species of human being.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Tyson speaks on his cameo in The Hangover, doing ayahuasca, and Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric. The hosts asked Tyson what was going through his mind when the former president started leaning into bigotry, particularly when it came to immigrants.
“I just know that I have some bad qualities that people can point to, too …” Tyson said.