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5 Former Athletes Mike Tyson Could Learn A Lesson From

Submitted by on July 16, 2010 – 9:49 am23 Comments

Earlier this week, Mike Tyson made headlines when he boldly referred to his life as a “waste” and told Details magazine that he regrets a lot of the things he did in his younger years. A former boxing champion, Tyson’s spent the last few years trying to figure out what step to take next in his life. And while a cameo appearance in last summer’s blockbuster The Hangover seemed to give some indication of what the future might hold for Iron Mike, his latest interview says otherwise.

No worries. If Tyson is, indeed, going through some sort of post-career/midlife crisis, he’s got plenty of role models to help him through it. To help him out, we came up with a list of five former athletes who Mike Tyson should look to if he wants to learn lessons about taking the next step. It just might help his life outside of the ring be even better than his life inside of it.

1. George Foreman

This is the most obvious role model for Tyson, so let’s get him out of the way first. After boxing for nearly 30 years, Foreman did a complete 180 and attached his name to The George Foreman Lean Mean Fat-Reducing Grilling Machine in 1994. Since then, he’s helped move over 100 million grills and introduced himself to an entirely different audience than he had during his fighting days.

The Lesson: Find out the right types of endorsements you should be doing—and do them! There are still plenty of sports fans out there that love them some Mike Tyson and would be willing to buy a product—the right product—just because it features your face.

2. Michael Strahan

Much like Tyson, the former New York Giants defensive lineman doesn’t have the prettiest mug in the world—but he keeps a smile on it. As a result, he’s gotten the opportunity to serve as an NFL analyst, done a bunch of national TV commercials and even starred in a short-lived FOX sitcom.

The Lesson: Start smiling more, Mike! (Trust us: If people like Strahan’s gap, they won’t have any trouble looking at your grill, either.)

3. Wilt Chamberlain

During his NBA playing days, Wilt was always the center of attention, mostly because he was always the tallest guy on the court. So it would have been incredibly easy for him to struggle when it came time to give up playing the sport of basketball. But instead, Chamberlain developed an interest in playing volleyball, opened a popular nightclub in Harlem, N.Y. and even landed a role along Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1973 film, Conan the Barbarian.

The Lesson: Stay busy and take the time to get involved in everything that you couldn’t get involved in during your playing days.

4. Charles Barkley

The Round Mound of Rebound never won an NBA championship during his time with the Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Houston Rockets, but he hasn’t let that stop him from enjoying success off the basketball court. He’s helped TNT win several Emmy Awards thanks to his role as an NBA analyst for the network and he’s also become even more famous than he was during his playing days thanks to his roles in commercials for T-Mobile and Taco Bell. And one of the reasons he’s been able to do it all is because he’s never been afraid to make fun of himself and take a joke.

The Lesson: Stop being so serious. You did it in The Hangover, Mike (sort of—we wouldn’t exactly say you were the comic relief in that movie). But you need to do it all the time in order to make the mainstream love you.

5. Michael Jordan

There’s no question MJ is a one of a kind athlete, a guy who single-handedly changed the way athletes were marketed and perceived. Yet, even he struggled to leave the basketball court, retiring and then unretiring on three separate occasions. But after leaving the game for good, MJ laid a blueprint for all retired athletes by staying involved in the game (he now owns the Charlotte Bobcats) as well as finding passions outside his sport (he owns a motocross team). He’s proven that athletes can use their money, fame and power to make the next stage of their life even better than their playing days.

The Lesson: Everyone struggles when it comes to walking away. Even one of the greatest athletes of all time did. Now that you’ve done it, though, it’s time to move on to the next phase of your life.

These are just a few of the retired athletes that Mike Tyson could learn a thing or two from. The important thing for him is to stay connected to the sports community, stay out of trouble and find something that he loves to do. If that’s pigeon-racing and comedy movies, so be it. But if we’ve learned anything from the legendary players listed above, it’s that Mike Tyson still has a lot of living to do. We just hope he decides to make the best of it and stops complaining about it.

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