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October 9, 2015

'One Night in Vegas' Details Friendship Between Mike Tyson and Tupac Shakur

by Jason Newman, posted Sep 7th 2010 10:02AM
Mike Tyson has long been a reference point for rappers who have empathized with and admired his tenacity, ferociousness and ability to succeed amidst a difficult, impoverished upbringing. But as 'One Night In Vegas,' the latest entry in ESPN's ongoing "30 For 30" series, shows, Tyson's relationship with hip-hop, specifically slain rapper Tupac Shakur, goes even deeper than that.

Tyson and director Reggie Rock Bythewood were on hand last week at Harlem's Dwyer Cultural Center to premiere the film, which chronicles the night of September 7, 1996. That night, Tyson fought Bruce Seldon for the WBA title and Shakur was mortally wounded later that evening. Shakur, who had recorded Tyson's entrance music for the fight and was in attendance, had long been an admirer of the boxer and planned on celebrating Tyson's win with the fighter later that evening, but was shot multiple times en route to the club and died a week later.

As author and cultural critic Michael Eric Dyson points out in the film, Tyson and Shakur were "mirror images" of each other, each displaying the arrogance, talent, determination and charisma that made them both controversial and successful figures in their respective fields. The film is peppered with anecdotes with Tyson himself along with actor/badass Mickey Rourke and poet Maya Angelou (One of which recalls taking off their shirt and preparing to maul an enemy with Tyson, but we won't give away which one.)

"I didn't know how much of an effect [the film] would have on me at first," Tyson told the crowd after the film. "We both had so much to prove because we were humiliated. We wanted to show the world that we were back in the same way and prove that we weren't who people thought we were. We were both misguided warriors."

The director himself wasn't even aware of the pair's close bond at first. "When I first heard of the documentary, it almost felt like a graphic novel," Bythewood told TV Squad. "I didn't know the full extent of their relationship and friendship when we started shooting. I had one idea of how the movie was going to go, but sometimes you just want to get out of the way and let it develop."

'One Night in Vegas' premieres tonight at 8PM ET on ESPN.

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