Tupac & Tyson: Thoughts on Two Of America’s Most Wanted

Last night when I got home from work, I made sure to catch ESPN’s latest “30 for 30” documentary, One Night In Vegas. The film chronicled the friendship between Tupac Shakur and Mike Tyson, while also delving into each individual’s significance within their particular field and the overall culture.

The title sorta makes you think that the focus was going to be on that “One Night In Vegas”—you know, the fateful night of September 7, 1996 when Tyson defeated Bruce Seldon with a first round knockout; when ‘Pac and others stomped out Orlando Anderson; when ‘Pac sustained gunshot wounds that would six days later turn fatal. But, in reality, that moment is only touched upon at the end of the piece, and not with any great amount of depth.

That said, director Reggie Rock Bythewood did a solid job of, in a short time slot, telling the stories of ‘Pac, Tyson, and their intersection. I was also glad to see the array of interview subjects he was able to lock down (most of the films in the “30 for 30” series have done a generally good job of this). Tyson himself gave seemingly honest insight and reflection (and he’s sorry he didn’t burn one with ‘Pac… and who can blame him?). Maya Angelou recalled meeting ‘Pac on the set of Poetic Justice and bringing him to tears, while Mickey Rourke remembered nearly getting into a bar fight with Tyson at his side.

‘Pac biographer Michael Eric Dyson drew parallels between the two stars and artfully framed each man in a larger social context, as he’s so often able to do. The man who snapped the now-notorious photo of ‘Pac and Suge Knight shortly before their car was lit up with bullets even spoke. And something would have been missing had Bythewood not gotten a one-on-one with Suge Knight, still puffing on a cigar all these years later. But he did, and the former Death Row CEO provided a necessary juxtaposition to the Dysons of the film.

One of my only beefs with One Night In Vegas was with the comic book style visuals that were used to tell much of the story. To me, they served to, at times, trivialize the tale that was being told.

I’m a young’n. I have memories of Tyson being a beast in the ring, but clearer ones of him biting Evander Holyfield’s ear off. I have memories of ‘Pac the man and the artist, but clearer ones of ‘Pac the figure and the legend. So, just like an earlier “30 for 30” episode dubbed, June 17, 1994,—which compiled news reports to tell the story of that infamous day that OJ Simpson captivated a nation in his white Bronco—this doc gave me perspective on a situation that I had some, but limited, knowledge on. And it did it well.

What did you guys think of the doc? —Adam Fleischer

Shouts to Jose3030 for the rip.

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  • Magnetic

    I DVRd and watched it late last night. I thought it was cool. I had been telling people about the whole Deathrow chain snatching and thats why dude got stomped in the lobby after the Tyson fight. Its no mystery that dude got his crew and got their payback later on at the stop light on the strip. Not too long after that Orlando Anderson got smoked himself. On another note, it was dope to bring out that Tyson and Tupac were friends and shine light on their personalities and that they weren’t the beasts or thugs that the media portrays them to be, just human like us all. I’m forever a Tyson fan and for the record fuck UFC.

  • BGZ

    Mike Tyson is real.

  • BIG E


  • Jamal7Mile

    EXCELLENT SHOW!!! Thanks for covering this, Adam (I told you it would be worth it). And thanks for the Jose3030 link too. My DVR screwed up and taped a damn tennis match on ESPN2.

    *note to self – ESPN >>> ESPN2

    I agree that some of the comic book style features were a bit cringe-worthy, but overall it added to the high quality of the 30/30 piece. It’s a nice touch.

    And it’s still FUCK SUGE KNIGHT!! I wish it was someone with a brain who bailed Pac out instead of him. Like a Chuck D, John Singleton or somebody.

    RIP Tupac Amaru Shakur…

  • Sha

    I personally believe every human being can be a major part of another human’s story. We are all connected.

    But then this story got me to thinking….

    I seriously think Tyson wants to die. Maybe not by his own hand, but death is definitely something I believe he longs for.

    You know how you see one of those sick animals that can’t speak, but their eyes are begging for it to end? This is what I saw with Tyson.

    And I will go one step further. I will say that there is a huge part of Tyson that is JEALOUS of Tupac’s exit. He saw an equally tortured soul in Tupac. Maybe a spiritual brother. They both had been shitted on. They both tried to destroy themselves. Yet, they were both warriors, bound by the same code of the streets that dominated their lives and philosophies.

    I know cats will dispute this, but this is what I see. I know Tyson has kids. And yes, he’s going to say to the camera what every parent might say to the camera. He’ll say,

    “I get my joy from seeing my kids grow up.”

    But Tyson’s soul is saying something else.

    Bonds can be created that are more than emotional. They connect in every possible way. Tupac and Tyson were brothers born of the same spiritual mother. Her name was Revolution. And Tyson wants the peace that his brother, Tupac, found.

    • Jamal7Mile

      Peace Sha…

      I agree that Tyson is hurting badly, to this day even. I recall that he lost a child due to some type of asphyxiation freak accident a year or so ago.

      Misunderstood, mourning, tired of it all… yeah, I can apply those to Tyson. Not sure if he wants to kill himself though. That’s the ULTIMATE peace. I think he just wants a peaceful existence.

      • Sha


        Very few cats view under the surface. As humans we have short attention spans and rarely look for the reason behind the action. But it’s cool that I’m not the only person that notices this. Maybe others will too and give him a break before it’s too late.

    • jburg

      I thought I was the only one that saw the pain and dispair in his eyes. You can see that he is just tired. Every time you see and interview with Tyson he has this look on his face like he just doesn’t want to be there. Like he wished he could just not be himself anymore. Even when he smiles you can see the pain in his face. I’m not sure if he wants to die but you can see that the spark isn’t there anymore.

      • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

        It’s funny ’cause I say the same thing about Holyfield…

        • Jack Tripper

          It’s funny ’cause I say the same thing about Holyfield…

          To Sha and $yk. That pain that you all see on tyson’s face is caused from all those years of fighting. Both Tyson’s and Holyfield’s eyes show the efffects of past swelling caused by massive blows. I’m not trying to be funny but it’s a common thing among boxers.

          But i do agree that Tyson has lived a hard life and that he views death as something that will sooth his troubled soul. Mike’s a very spiritual guy and has a strong will and hopefully he’s found a little bit of the peace that he’s been searching for. Hopefully he’s found that peace and things are a bit easy for him. Troubled souls aren’t always troubled for eternity.

      • Sha


        Nope. You’re not the only one to see it. Maybe more people are noticing this. Maybe that’s the reason the last 2 documentaries about Tyson have been very favorable. I am just happy I witnessed his greatness. I can tell my kids I lived during the crazy days of Tupac and Tyson. Think about it….. We are very fortunate to witness what we have as a hip-hop nation. Good and Bad.

        • Jack Tripper

          Check out my last post to $yk. It’s intended for you also.

        • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

          “Both Tyson’s and Holyfield’s eyes show the efffects of past swelling caused by massive blows. I’m not trying to be funny but it’s a common thing among boxers.”

          ^ I remember seeing something on TV about that. Riddick Bowe is f^X up too.

          RIP the heavyweight boxing division

  • Anonymous

    DaYuM Sha..BBa!! Deep!?!?

    • Sha


      I see you!

  • jusadream

    overall 30 for 30
    One Night In Vegas
    was 50/50!

  • 619

    DVRed it too. Wasn’t no 30 for 30, ESPN had some stupid ass tennis match before that lasted longer than scheduled and covered the time slot for 30 for 30. Damn, DVRed some sorry ass tennis. Cmon ESPN, really

  • Raka

    ESPN scheduled Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith before a lot of games, and the games went to overtime and because the games ran late, people had to go to bed and people stopped watching, and ultimately canceled his show. I hope this episode lands online.

    • Jamal7Mile

      It is online, Raka. Click the video play button in the post to watch it on your computer.

  • matty21

    i havnt watched da doc. yet(but i’m bout 2 lol, i should just wait to comment like u said)..but i’ve seen a ton of pac documentaries, and have reading about pac and the shit from that night for years(probably 8/9)… i’m young too, and its more the legend to me

    … when i was young, i grew up around older cats all the time in my neighborhood, bout 4 and 5 years older…and all i remember is dis older girl that was my homie(and still is) loving him 2 death, loving pac as a man, and as an artist, his music, and just everything about him all around(she talked bout him all da time, and i just didnt quite understand, i just like her so i liked pac too lol)…and when i was young, i remember when he died, and going over 2 her house and her crying, and saying: “2pac died”…and back then i didnt quite understand the magnitude of it, i was listening to rap, but obviously not heavy in it, i must have been in 4th 5th 6th grade, and i would have been heavy in2 pac, but i was young like i said…and now looking back, after all da history learning, and listening to all da music, i look back on her crying and understand

    ..that story came 2 my mind becuz of how u said ur young, and pac was KINDA before our time, and how u said about u knowing pac as da “figure and da legend” and i would say dat about myself too…also, although he was before our time, if you do your studying, u can feel it like it’s 2day, and it was JUST before our time, we just missed it, like Nirvana and Kurt too, WE JUST MISSED IT! lol but i’ma stay on subject(pac, but nirvana was right there too)…but with both, to get the feel in 2010, all u gotta do is watch a video or a live show really, or a documentary and u get da feel babi, and so many ppl feel it and love it…legends forever

    …but with pac: even today, u see his fingerprints all over da game, and how much artist’s have learned from him, right and wrong..learned how 2 get that money, and what da fans like, and how 2 stay real, branch out as an artist, treat da artistry as real life and as a business at da same time, dats all pac…and keeping dat real life struggle in da lyrics, dat people FEEEL, dats y it’ll NEVER go away and he is a LEGEND…pac is all over da game TODAY, and PAC LIVES EVERYDAY THRU ARTISTS TODAY, i aint gon’ say any names(dont got to), but pac is alive EVERYDAY through other artists, u better believe dat, and u can bet dat(u hear da references all da time)

    …but i’ma check out da doc. ; dats y i didnt have such an urge to see it, of course i was gon’ check it out(i meant to tvo it), but i’ve seen so many, n i didnt know what this 1 would show me new or how it would be presented, but even by your description it sounds tight, and brings something NEW to da table…and like u said, i thought it was gon’ focus on da ONE night too, but ya’ll sound like it went more in depth about his relationships and i love that…so i’ma check it out, good post, good shit….thanx (pac is more da figure and da legend to me too, and same with Kurt Cobain)

  • Q461

    I think Mike wouldn’t care so much if he died, he’s had such a tremendous fall from grace unfortunately.Lots of misery in his life, RIP to his babygirl too. Such a damn shame cause for his time, he was without a doubt the best heavyweight fighter around. I don’t think Pac wanted to die, I think he just knew it was going to happen. He had too many enemies, too many struggles in his life. He saw it coming. Live Fast, Die Young.


    I thought my dvr was the only one acting like that. Fuc that tennis when it come my nigga Ty and Pac. lol

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nz77ATFVhs smooth

    Wtf with those 2 guys introducing the show? Just had to skip that, we dont need any people rapping a documentary???

    I agree with Tyson’s face. He never seems happy. It’s like he’s got all the pain in the world. I feel he’s been the paroxysm of a gladiator version of the modern american entertainment, molded by a society who gave him a unique way to express himself: violence. Contrary to a Muhamad Ali he did not have any center as a youngster… Remember Jet Li in Dany The Dog?

    Same for 2Pac. He was more educated but still, he was too young to stay totally focus in that crazy environment he was living in… We will never see anyone else like him again in entertainment, America made sure of this… Look at DMX thread they just did… He’s like a lost 2Pac today, but ehre is not any place for people like him anymore today.

  • matty21

    tight shit! liked it a lot, very good job, good work…. great shit!

  • Kali

    It took a sports channel like ESPN to make a real honest account of what happend that night in vegas. FUCK suge…


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  • BeerGangsta

    Tyson will knock you out in the first round back then!! He got brainwash in so many different ways. Tupac was overrated!! He was not no dam killer!! They shot the Fucker in the elevador. He did not do nothing about it. Biggie set him up. Only thing he did was make wack azz diss song. Thats not no killer. That’s a brainwash Bitch.

  • Estanislao

    Didn’t James Toney tapout like a bitch in his UFC fight against a 48 year-old? haha