'Seinfeld' Star Michael Richards Reveals Shocking Health Battle

Michael Richards

Seinfeld star Michael Richards is speaking out for the first time about a major health scare that he didn't think he would survive.

Fans know him as the beloved and quirky Seinfeld character Cosmo Kramer, but the actor behind the eccentric personality was battling a serious health complication just six years ago. Until now, he's never spoken publicly about what he went through.

While talking to PEOPLE about his upcoming book, Entrances and Exits, Richards, 74, opened up about being diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018, something he writes about in the memoir, set for release early next month.

"I thought, well, this is my time. I'm ready to go," he recalled to the outlet in an interview published Thursday, May 23.

But he went on to explain that it was the thought of his son, Antonio, who was nine at the time, that motivated him to keep pushing through.

"I heard myself saying, 'I've got a 9-year-old and I'd like to be around for him. Is there any way I can get a little more life going?'" Richards recounted, and since his biopsy "didn't look good," his doctor recommended a major surgery to remove the entire prostate.

"It had to be contained quickly," he explained. "I had to go for the full surgery. If I hadn't, I probably would have been dead in about eight months."

In addition to the private cancer battle, Richards' book is expected to cover more pivotal moments throughout his life as well, including the 2006 scandal that ensued after he made a racist comment during a comedy show.

"I had over 40 journals I’d kept over the years and wanted to do a full review of my life," he told PEOPLE in Thursday's story. "I’m turning 75, so maybe wanting to do that is something that comes with being my age."

"I wanted to connect with feelings and memory. I’m surprised at how much I was able to remember," he added.

Richards' book, Entrances and Exits, will hit bookshelves on Tuesday, June 4.

Next: Jerry Seinfeld Reunites With Michael Richards for Rare Photo on the Red Carpet