A few years ago, Mosley was staring into a different kind of emptiness, as the most important things in life—family, finances, and health—tumbled chaotically around him. He almost lost it all, and that threat sparked a renaissance. It’s a journey he’s still on, but it has included years of boxing, dropping more than 100 pounds, and gaining a new perspective. But first he had to kick the drugs.
Looking back, Mosley wonders if the problems weren’t inevitable. “I had to get whipped, because I didn’t appreciate anything,” the 47-year-old says in his syrupy southern lilt. He’s seated at a white stone counter in his kitchen, dressed in gray workout clothes. Mosley, who sports a goatee with a bleached center stripe, looks you in the eye when he talks, searching for signs that you understand what he means. “All my life I felt it was a little too easy.”
It’s true he has known mostly ascent. Success arrived early—working with Missy Elliott straight out of high school in Virginia Beach, then helping to produce Aaliyah’s double-platinum album One in a Million. Accomplishment may have come fast, but Mosley worked hard to keep it up, spending hours in the studio hunched over mixing boards, headphones on, eating vanilla ice cream through the night.
Unhealthy eating habits aside, the intense focus on the creative part of his life made other areas vulnerable. In 2011, after receiving a prescription for painkillers following a root canal, Mosley started abusing OxyContin and Percocet. Then “my arm started bothering me,” he says, the remnant of an old injury—at 17 he was shot accidentally while working at a Red Lobster. More pain gave him an excuse to ask for more pills.
“I had a dream that death was near. I saw myself with a white face.”
As pressures mounted, his pill abuse worsened. Divorce proceedings with his wife, Monique, which began in 2013, dragged on for years. His finances fell into disarray. The IRS filed a $4 million lien for three years of unpaid taxes, a lapse that he attributes to confusion and inattention during his addiction. The painkillers put him in a place where everything felt all right, even when it wasn’t. “It put me in a great feeling of not caring, of just being free,” he says. “I’m like traveling, doing shows, popping ’em, having fun, just being ignorant.”
He doesn’t remember how many pills a day he was taking, other than to say it was “way over the limit.” He began to feel foggy, dull. Mosley also started putting on weight and developed prediabetes. He grew sluggish. Tired. Lost. And then there was a nightmare. “I had a dream that death was near,” he recalls. “I saw myself with a white face.” That’s when he woke up.
Mosley has a daughter, 12, and two sons, 17 and 27. He realized he needed to save himself for them. “It’s like a bright light going on in your brain,” he says about raising children. “That’s how you know what true love really is.”
Crawling out of the hole his life had fallen into required strategy and planning. He moved from a 14,000-square-foot mansion outside Miami to a 2,500-square-foot condo downtown. “I had to downsize, get all that superstar stuff out of the way,” he says. He settled with the IRS. Then he worked to settle with his ex-wife. “The divorce at the beginning was very messy, but now we are good friends.”
That left his addiction, and he decided to quit all by himself. “Just me and God,” he says, adding that there was no other option. “This was the path chosen for me. God was rebuilding my character.” Mosley, raised a Baptist and today a follower of the nondenominational pastor T. D. Jakes, would lean heavily on spirituality in the fight to get clean.
His method was to take fewer and fewer pills from his existing stock until there was nothing left. That took about two weeks. Afterward came withdrawal. “One of the toughest things I’ve been through,” he says, shaking his head at the memory. “The only things that got me through it were my kids, my girl, the help of God keeping my mind still.”
By this point, Mosley’s girlfriend, Michelle Dennis, had moved to Miami to be with him. “I have a great woman who stood by my side through the whole thing,” he says. It was Dennis who found Punch Elite Fitness, in Miami’s Wynwood district. Mosley had never boxed before but liked the challenge. When he walked into the gym the first time, he was in rough shape, weighing about 350 pounds at five-foot-seven, recalls gym co-owner Ricardo Wilson. (Boxing coaches remember these kinds of details.)
“He had a lot of aches and pains,” Wilson says. He had “glute and hamstring deficiencies” from lack of exercise, and he was hunched due to back pain. Before he ever stepped into a ring, Mosley had to work on posture and range-of-motion exercises, Wilson says, including hip openers, posture squats, and standing leg curls. Then came shadowboxing, jumping rope, and hitting the bag for ten three-minute rounds at a time. Eventually Mosley graduated to sparring. The workouts were hard, but nothing compared to withdrawal. “When you get beat up the way I got beat up mentally, this ain’t hard,” he says.
As Mosley began losing weight, Wilson noticed another change: “His energy levels increased, and then he started challenging other clients in the gym, to push them.” And Dennis kept pushing Mosley.
After a year, he had lost 50 pounds, and the couple started working out twice a day, boxing in the mornings and doing cardio and weights at night.
When Mosley had dropped 40 more pounds, he decided he wanted to “level up” and train where the athletes train. While continuing to box on Sundays, he moved his weekday workouts to DBC Fitness. The gym specializes in biomechanics and works with a roster of pros, including Dwyane Wade, formerly of the Miami Heat, and the Dolphins’ Reshad Jones.
For all the progress Mosley had made at Punch, DBC co-owner David Alexander still considered him “a work in progress.” His feet and ankles were not working right, Alexander says, and he came in “grossly overweight,” about 260 pounds. So Alexander designed a program around seven general movement patterns: squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, twist, and gait.
“He has a no-quit mentality,” Alexander says. “He understands that this is his new life. It’s not something that’s going to go away in three months. And he’s committed. Tim is one of the most mentally strong guys out there.”
Alexander put together a nutrition plan and hired a chef to create a menu of weekly meals to be delivered to Mosley’s home. Chicken, salmon, vegetables. Three and a half liters of water a day. No processed foods. “If it didn’t run, grow, crawl, or swim, we don’t eat it,” Alexander says.
Mosley’s cheat is a weekend glass of red wine, poured from a bottle from his kitchen’s wall-length wine fridge; he enjoys it on that waterside patio now that his life has been restored and he is living in a luxury condo. He says he’s clearheaded and newly inspired, focused on growing what he started nearly 30 years ago. “I’m more about the team building,” he says. He recently finished work with big-timers Kanye West and Coldplay, but he’s also collaborating with young artists.
“God has me under construction, which I’m still under,” Mosley says. “I don’t feel like I’m complete. I don’t want to ever feel like I’m complete, ’cause my mind would probably get idle. God needed me to be clear so I could see what is needed, not what I want.”
ARTICLE VIA MENS HEALTH 2020 JAN
FEATURED IMAGE VIA TAMRON HALL SHOW