Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson could have faced 4.3 years in prison for a felony drug possession and misdemeanor DUI conviction stemming from an incident in Scottsdale on Dec. 29.
But the former world’s most feared boxer was sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court to three years of probation on both charges Monday morning. He was ordered not to drink alcohol for three years, and he will spend one day in jail. He was also fined $3,600 and will have to complete 360 hours of community service.
Tyson, 41, who was wearing a gray-striped dress suit with a purple tie and tweed hat as he left court, will begin serving his 24-hour jail sentence this morning. He pleaded guilty to the charges in September.
Tyson, formerly of Paradise Valley, was arrested about 2 a.m. Dec. 29 in Scottsdale by a Buckeye officer working a holiday drunken-driving enforcement operation. He had more than 2 grams of cocaine in his possession, according to county court documents.
Before a crowded courtroom, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Helene Abrams handed down the sentence and said she was “impressed” with the letters of support Tyson had received from others he had helped in drug counseling in California, where he sought treatment for the last nine months.
“You assisted others with their treatment and became a role model,” Abrams said.
Abrams also warned Tyson that if he violates the terms of his probation, he will face prison time.
David Chesnoff, one of Tyson’s three attorneys, thanked Abrams for having an open mind, and Tyson bowed his head and thanked the judge for her ruling.
Prosecutors were seeking to place Tyson behind bars for one year. Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas said Monday he was disappointed by the sentence.
“I know there are others who have a list of lengthier offenses, but Mike Tyson’s is substantial because it contains violent offenses,” said Shane Krauser, Maricopa County deputy prosecuting attorney. “He has a violent history and has chosen to wait over a decade and after he was charged with a fourth offense to get help. If the court doesn’t impose punitive actions, we’re sending the wrong message here.”
In 1992, Tyson was convicted of raping a woman in Indiana; in 1998, he was convicted of assault for a road-rage incident in Maryland; and in 2004, he was convicted of assault after a brawl at a Brooklyn, N.Y., hotel, Krauser said.
Tyson was driving erratically on Scottsdale Road near Drinkwater Boulevard after he left a Scottsdale nightclub and nearly collided with the police officer’s cruiser. At the time of his arrest, the police officer noticed Tyson wiping white powder off his dashboard, and Tyson acknowledged a serious substance abuse problem and said used cocaine daily.
Chesnoff said Tyson almost “immediately” sought help by entering the Wonderland drug rehabilitation facility in Southern California, where Tyson now lives. Tyson has also joined Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous and plans to help underprivileged children at the Ebony House in Phoenix.
“I’m so tired of people portraying him as a caricature of himself,” Chesnoff said. “Probation is not a slap on the wrist. It can be very difficult to abide by. If you do good deeds and help others, there are alternatives to prison.”