And with the anniversary comes ESPN’s new documentary: One Night in Vegas: Tyson & Tupac. The rap star, poet and actor was gunned down just hours after watching Mike Tyson knock out Bruce Seldon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. “(Tupac) didn't last long, but the time he did last, every minute, every tenth of a moment, was explosive," Tyson told ESPN.
Tupac was also explosive. In the minutes following Tyson’s professional fight, Tupac got into a street-like fight inside the MGM Grand as he was leaving the arena.
At the elevator bank just before the MGM’s main lobby, Tupac and his crew ran into Orlando Anderson, a known Crips street gang member from Compton, California. Tupac’s music producer, Suge Knight, who was with Tupac that night, was a known member of the rival gang Mob Piru.
Backpedal a few years to 1992 after Tyson was sent to prison to serve out a sentence for rape. That’s when Tupac reached out to Iron Mike, saying he was going to be in the area and would like to visit him in prison. While they may have been an unlikely pair, both knew how to put up a fight, as evidenced later with the MGM scuffle Tupac started.
From prison, Tyson paid attention to Tupac’s thug-life image. They regularly talked on the phone. That’s when Tyson, who was a few years older than Shakur, handed out brotherly advice. Shakur told friends it meant a lot to him. “Tyson was giving me a lot of advice,” Tupac told a radio station. “I really looked up to him something hard. He’d tell me to calm down.”
The same night as the Tyson-Seldon fight, Tupac was shot when a gunman in a white Cadillac pulled up to Tupac and Suge’s car and opened fire with a high-caliber Glock handgun, hitting Tupac several times, including in the chest. The Clark County coroner determined the cause of death as multiple gunshot wounds.
The last time Tyson would talk to Tupac would be in Tyson’s dressing room immediately following the fight. “I told him I’d see him that night and we could hang out,” Tyson told ESPN. Six days later, the 25-year-old hip-hop star was dead. Tupac’s unsolved murder has frustrated rap fans ever since, despite Compton Police (a law enforcement department which has since merged with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department) offering up Orlando Anderson as a suspect. For their part, Las Vegas police have said there wasn’t enough evidence against Orlando, and members of Tupac’s entourage were uncooperative. I began covering the case a couple of hours after the shooting, which was the topic of my book, The Killing of Tupac Shakur, and it appeared, after Anderson's name had become known, that there was motive -- the scuffle -- not to mention Compton Police's discovery of a Glock in the home Anderson lived in and Anderson bragging on his home turf that he'd killed Tupac. But Las Vegas police, who traveled to Compton, did not formally interview Anderson and declined to arrest him. Eighteen months after Tupac was killed, Orlando Anderson was murdered in what police said was an unrelated shooting. We may never know if Orlando was, in fact, the gunman in Tupac's death.
As for Tyson, he told ESPN that Tupac’s memory lives on through his works. "He's going to last until the time this Earth comes to an end. I'm glad to be a part of his life and to have known him. (Tupac) was probably a misguided warrior. He had a heart as big as this planet. He had so much love and compassion, and you couldn't even see it under his rage."
In the meantime, the murder of Tupac Shakur, unofficially at least, remains unsolved.
Photo of Tyson and Tupac, courtesy of ESPN. Other photos courtesy of Yahoo! Images.