MESA, Ariz. -- Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson
pleaded guilty Monday to charges of drug possession and driving
under the influence stemming from a traffic stop last year as he
was leaving a nightclub.
In a hushed voice, Tyson, 41, told Maricopa County Superior
Court Judge Helene F. Abrams that he was under the influence of
alcohol and cocaine when officers stopped him for driving
erratically Dec. 29 in Scottsdale.
"I had possession of cocaine, and I drove under the
influence," he told the judge, his voice barely audible.
Tyson pleaded guilty to a single felony count of cocaine
possession and a misdemeanor DUI count. A felony charge of
possession of drug paraphernalia and a second misdemeanor DUI
charge were dropped, according to the terms of a plea agreement.
Tyson faces a maximum of four years and three months in prison
when he is sentenced Nov. 19.
The former champion walked out of the courtroom flanked by his
lawyers and got into a black SUV. He did not stop to answer
Defense lawyer David Chesnoff said Tyson has been clean and
sober for eight months and has been talking to community groups
about his own drug problems.
"It's obvious this was a crime he was committing against
himself," Chesnoff said.
Police stopped Tyson after the boxer had spent the evening at
Scottsdale's Pussycat Lounge. An officer said he saw Tyson wiping a
white substance off the dashboard of his black BMW, and that his
speech was slurred. Authorities found bags of cocaine in Tyson's
pocket and in his car.
Tyson told officers later that he used cocaine "whenever I can
get my hands on it," and that he preferred to smoke it in Marlboro
cigarettes with the tobacco pulled out.
According to a court document, Tyson admitted to being an
Tyson also told police that he used marijuana that day and was
taking the antidepressant Zoloft.
Since his arrest, Tyson checked himself into an inpatient
treatment program for what his lawyer called "various
addictions." Chesnoff had said previously that he'd try to keep
the boxer out of prison.
"You never know," Chesnoff said. "If there had been more
people interested in his well-being and health along the way, we
wouldn't be here now."
County Attorney Andrew Thomas said Tyson should be put in
prison, noting that Tyson was convicted of rape in Indiana in 1992
and pleaded no contest to misdemeanor assault charges in Maryland
"Mike Tyson is a repeat offender with a violent past," Thomas
said during a news conference. "I believe only a prison sentence
will send the right message and properly protect the public."
In 1986, Tyson became the youngest heavyweight champion in
history when, at 20, he knocked out Trevor Berbick. He lost his
title four years later when he was knocked out by James "Buster"
Douglas. By 1997, Tyson's career hit a low point when he bit
Evander Holyfield's ear during a fight.
Tyson recently had been trying to revive his career with a
series of four-round boxing exhibitions.