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Jesse James: 'I should have left her'

By Katie McLaughlin, CNN
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Jesse James on his 'pretend' former life
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jesse James on cheating on Sandra Bullock: "I'm 100% to blame"
  • James says a jail stint prevented him from going to college on a football scholarship
  • He describes a band security gig where his job was to keep Flava Flav from buying crack
  • James is now engaged to tattoo artist Kat Von D
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Watch the full interview with Jesse James Friday. "Piers Morgan Tonight" airs weeknights on CNN/US at 9 p.m. ET and on CNN International at 0200 GMT (live simulcast), 1200 GMT, and 2000 GMT and HKT.

CNN -- "I should have did the honorable thing," Jesse James tells CNN's Piers Morgan. "I should have left her, you know? If I wanted to screw around, I should have, you know, ended it."

The TV personality and West Coast Choppers CEO discusses the breakup of his marriage to Sandra Bullock, his new fiancée Kat Von D, his new book, "American Outlaw," and more on Friday's "Piers Morgan Tonight."

"I'm 100% to blame," continues James. "I take full accountability for my actions, you know? No one was holding a gun to my head to do what I did."

Morgan tells James that the only time he ever met Bullock was at the Oscars last year, and she said, referring to James, "I wake up every day, and I remind myself how lucky I am to have him."

Then, Morgan says, "within four days it was all over." James says that while he wouldn't go back and change things, he is partially glad that it happened because he is "a firm believer that things happen in life to teach us a lesson."

"I'm not happy that I hurt her, and hurt so many people around her," James adds. "I would never want to put anybody through that again."

Morgan asks James to recall the moment he confessed to Bullock that he had been unfaithful. The conversation is revealed in the book, in which James says he admitted the affair, but told Bullock that he never cared for the woman he had the affair with. However, when Bullock asked why he'd done it, James had no answer.

"It's tough to tell them something when you know when you tell them you're never going to see them again," James tells Morgan.

James admits that he and Bullock no longer speak.

James opens up to Morgan about growing up in Riverside and Long Beach, California, with a father who beat him. When Morgan asks James if he thinks his father should have apologized, James says, "I don't think so. I think I'm cool with it. You know, it's kind of the dichotomy of me. It's made me who I am, you know? Made me strong; made me never do that to my kids."

James also describes how he came very close to being recruited to a top college on a football scholarship, but an armed robbery sent him to jail for 90 days during his senior year of high school, dashing any hopes of an NFL career.

"I clinged to the wrong friends, and the wrong crowd," says James. "On the football field I was like the disciplined soldier. I would kill for my coaches and do everything perfect -- every drill, every practice, everything. I'd be the first one there, and the last one to leave. But as soon as football season ended, I didn't have any structure. So I would just get in trouble."

Soon after, James began working security at concerts. He tells an anecdote about doing security for the rap group Public Enemy. His job was to make sure Flava Flav did not buy crack cocaine.

"They had me like drive around and follow him," recalls James, "and make sure he didn't buy crack from anyone in L.A. For a week."

Spending time on the road with bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Europe sparked James' lifelong passion for motorcycles. He began building bikes whenever he wasn't with a concert tour and was eventually able to earn a living building high-end custom bikes at his shop, West Coast Choppers. The shop led to his becoming a TV host, which is how he met Bullock. The actress had arranged for her godson to meet James because the boy was a West Coast Choppers fan.

James tells Morgan that he wrote "American Outlaw" because he wants to tell his story, despite the fact that a lot of people "think I should just hide forever." He says that while he understands why so many people despise him for what he did to Bullock, he no longer cares. "I can be the villain," says James. "And she'll always be America's sweetheart."

"I don't think Sandy and I were ever really friends," says James, who is now engaged to tattoo artist Kat Von D. He says that he and Von D have "a deeper understanding" of each other.

"Kat and I seem to be connected on, like, such a higher level," says James. "I've never had someone like have my back 100%, you know?"

At that point, Morgan brings up Bullock's Golden Globes acceptance speech, in which the actress said to her then-husband, James: "There's no surprise that my work got better when I met you, because I never knew what it felt like for someone to have my back."

James quickly counters, claiming Bullock "said that same speech at four different award shows."

When Morgan asks if James is accusing Bullock of being insincere, James asks Morgan what Bullock does for a living.

"Movie stuff," answers Morgan.

"Yes, what?" asks James.

"An actor," replies Morgan.

"Oh, OK, cool," James retorts.

When Morgan asks James if he thinks it was an act, James says, in reference to Hollywood, "I think you know, that whole -- that, you know, people that have to live in that world."

Morgan asks James if he's glad to be out of "that world," to which James replies, "100%."

"It's just pretend," continues James. "It's not real. I'm, like, the guy that goes to a shop. And I don't hang out in the office. I go to the back of the shop, and hang out with the guys that are all greasy, dirty. And that's -- that's where I belong."

Watch Piers Morgan Live weeknights 9 p.m. ET. For the latest from Piers Morgan click here.

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