Catch the full Mike Tyson interview on "Unguarded" with Rachel Nichols tonight at 10:30 p.m. ET. Only on CNN.
(CNN) -- When fans approach Mike Tyson for photographs, they don't want the typical arm-around-the-shoulder celeb shot. Rather, they want the former world heavyweight champion to pose as if he's going to chomp their ear off.
And he's OK with that.
The former world heavyweight champion sat down with Rachel Nichols for a candid talk about his battles in an out of the ring with drugs and alcohol, and finally being at peace with his own life. Mike Tyson has been the fiercest fighter of his generation, done jail time, and even starred in a one-man show on Broadway.
"It's a big joke now," Tyson told Rachel Nichols of the infamous 1997 boxing match in which he bit off a portion of Evander Holyfield's ear. The incident disqualified him from the match and racked up fines and a host of legal woes for Tyson, whose bad-boy reputation had gone off the rails many a time.
Both men starred in a recent Foot Locker commercial in which Tyson "returned" the ear, but he told Nichols that he is sincerely sorry.
Nichols asked Tyson about the turning point in his career that was his cameo in the 2009 smash comedy film "The Hangover."
"For a lot of people 'The Hangover' movie was a real turning point," said Nichols. "It was a very endearing performance."
Like his "Hangover" alter-ego, Tyson actually has had "a few tigers" as pets.
"You can't just throw them in the backseat like a dog, and have his head go out the window and go for a drive, right?" inquired Nichols.
"You could," said Tyson, however "they don't like the wind ... hitting them in the face."
"So, you can go for a drive with your pet tiger," asked Nichols, "just don't open the window?"
"Well... just crack it a little bit," Tyson laughed. "See, they pass gas."
In Tyson's earlier days, at the height of his boxing career in the late 1980s-early 1990s, he was knocking out his opponents at just 30 and 40 seconds into the game.
Following what he described as a rough upbringing in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Tyson told Nichols he had been arrested more than 40 times by the time he was 12.
But by 20 years of age, Tyson had become Heavyweight Champion of the World.
"Once you get there," asked Nichols, "how difficult is it to deal with it?"
"It gives you a false sense of security," Tyson told the CNN host. "It makes you somewhat believe that you can't even die. And it turns you into a coward. This is what I know. People aren't born humble. Human beings have to be humbled in order to really appreciate the value of life."
Along with the fame and notoriety came great fortune. But the money came and went fast.
"I couldn't fathom the zeros," Tyson confessed. "Just a lot of zeros... That money put a lot of demons in me. I'm not one of those guys that should have too much goodies and stuff. "
Chalking his monetary downfall to poor spending habits and managers who weren't looking out for his best interests, among other things, has inspired Tyson, now 47, to help young boxers avoid some of the pitfalls he fell prey to in his 20s in a new career turn as a boxing promoter.
"How are you doing it differently than the guys who promoted you?" asked Nichols.
"I'll make sure my guys get their money at the end of the day," said Tyson, "and they won't have to worry about that. They have to be responsible, like I wasn't. I wasn't a responsible fighter.