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Mike Tyson and Maurice Clarett sound like a strange pairing. At first glance, the 53-year-old boxing legend doesn’t seem to have a lot in common with the 36-year-old former Ohio State star. Yet, the two controversial athletes have formed a unique bond where Clarett has ironically inspired the man who he once idolized as a kid. And when the two met recently, it ended with Iron Mike in tears.

Maurice Clarett fell a long way from his days as an Ohio State legend

Nearly 20 years ago, Maurice Clarett couldn’t have been a bigger football star. The Ohio native stayed at home and played his college ball for the Buckeyes. He spent just one year at OSU, but boy did he capture national attention quickly.

The 6-foot, 220-pound tailback tallied 1,237 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 222 carries. He chipped in another two scores on 12 receptions. With Clarett carrying the offense, the Buckeyes won their first national title since 1968. It looked like the beginning of a prolific career that would ultimately result in a first-round NFL draft selection.

Yet, the talented running back got dismissed from the program for a number of controversial incidents. After battling for his NFL draft eligibility, he ended up getting selected in the third round in 2005. However, his pro football career never materialized.

Instead, he found himself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. ESPN highlighted the former star’s legal troubles that included Clarett allegedly robbing two people at gunpoint in January 2006. Eight months later, he got arrested after a highway chase that resulted in police using pepper spray on him. They also found three handguns and an AK-47 inside the vehicle.

About a month later, Maurice Clarett pled guilty to aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon. He served about 3.5 years in prison before getting released in April 2010.

Mike Tyson has battled his own demons over the years

Mike Tyson may have starred in a different sport, but his own professional career included many legal troubles, too. The boxing legend has battled demons throughout his life. While his anger and aggression fueled him in the ring, it also got him into trouble.

In 1992, Iron Mike received a six-year prison sentence for raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black America Contest. Though he maintained his innocence, he got convicted of the crime.

Ten years later, he found himself in more trouble. His second wife, Monica Turner, filed for divorce due to his adultery. In 2006, he got arrested on suspicion of DUI and felony drug possession. He even admitted to his addiction and spent 24 hours in jail after pleading guilty to both charges.

Tyson has never been shy about discussing his addictions to alcohol, and his sobriety has routinely been a hot-button topic. However, despite his checkered past, the 53-year-old has managed to turn his life around and even got inspiration from an unlikely source.

Clarett has become an inspiration for Iron Mike

Maurice Clarett has managed to re-write his life story since leaving prison. He now serves as a motivational speaker. Interestingly, his post-football career put him in touch with none other than Mike Tyson. Well, as it turns out, it was the boxing legend who reached out to the former football star.

According to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN, Tyson met two of Clarett’s former Ohio State teammates at an autograph-signing event. The boxing icon wanted to meet the running back-turned-motivational speaker.

“I feel like I made it now,” Clarett says. “As a football player, I ran like I was Mike Tyson. A lot of stuff, I identified with him. He got taken out of boxing at his prime. I got taken out of football in my prime. For this dude to know who I was and know who I am — this is the biggest star in my era, him and [Michael] Jordan.”

When Tyson and Clarett met, the conversation that ensued turned out to be incredibly powerful.

Tyson greets Clarett and immediately starts talking — about how he hurt people, how he hated himself, how his children hated him, how he contemplated suicide but was too narcissistic to go through with it. The former world heavyweight champion had served three years and six weeks of a six-year sentence for a rape conviction before being released from prison in 1995. He attempted several comebacks to the ring. He lived with depression, other mental health issues and alcoholism for years. Tyson says Clarett’s comeback story gave him hope that he could revise his own story.

Who would have thought that as Maurice Clarett and Mike Tyson embraced, that Iron Mike would be in tears?