On the Ropes

Updated: February 20, 2003, 1:56 PM ET
By By Tim Keown, ESPN The Magazine
Get over it, they tell Johnny Tapia. You've got a beautiful wife who understands you, two sons who adore you, fans who forgive you and a body that withstands you. What else could a man need? You're a legend, a future Hall of Famer, a five-time world title-holder. You've made enough money for six lifetimes. Get over it, they tell him. Move on.

Get over it. The words ring in his ears. He is a drug addict and an alcoholic. He has bipolar disorder. He says he's been declared clinically dead four times. His father was murdered before Johnny was born. He was 7 years old when he sat in a bus that went down a 100-foot embankment near his hometown of Albuquerque. He watched the pregnant woman seated next to him die. That was just the beginning.