It was a humiliating and tragic low for an NBA star who once soared so high: Lamar Odom, former Los Angeles Laker, was carried unconscious from a brothel Tuesday afternoon. Authorities tried to fly him out — but, at 6 foot 10, he was too tall. And, as TMZ reported, he is now in a coma, his heart failing.
‘‘It’s not good,’’ a source told TMZ.
The scene of Odom’s collapse — the cause of which is not yet known — was Dennis Hof’s Bunny Ranch in Crystal, Nev. Employees at the Bunny Ranch found Odom unconscious in his room with ‘‘mucus-type liquid coming out of his nose and mouth.’’ Hof, the brothel’s owner — featured in HBO’s documentary series ‘‘Cathouse’’ — told NBC News Odom was taking ‘‘herbal Viagra,’’ and ‘‘he was taking a lot of it.’’ The Mayo Clinic warns that products claiming to be natural forms of Viagra can cause dangerously low blood pressure.
‘‘When we called 911, 911 said roll him on his left side,’’ said Hof. ‘‘And he started throwing up all kinds of stuff, foaming, throwing up all kinds of things. The girls said they didn’t see anything. The police came out and with the ambulance people. They didn’t see anything.’’
He added: ‘‘The only thing we know for sure is that he was taking an excessive amount of herbal Viagra. Not to say that he wasn’t doing any drugs. But nobody saw anything like that. They saw no effects. What I understand is that he got a phone call and was a little bit somber on Sunday afternoon for a while. And then he kind of shook it off and was having a good time. . . . They were having a blast with Lamar.’’
As the world awaits news of Odom’s condition, the episode seemed yet another in his tumultuous personal life: drug problems, a father who was a heroin addict, a mother who died of cancer when Odom was 12, the death of a daughter from sudden infant death syndrome. And, of course, Odom’s transition from a real character — a formidable one — to a reality character as a towering prop for Khloe Kardashian.
At first, it seemed like fate: After a whirlwind 30-day courtship, Odom and Khloe Kardashian wed in 2009 — on TV as well as in real life. As seen on ‘‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians,’’ Odom proposed on camera. He declared his intentions to Khloe’s family on camera, facing of the disapproval of Caitlyn Jenner. And, of course, the wedding was too good not to film.
‘‘Wedding planner Sharon Sacks created the Hollywood nightclub-themed reception that followed in a tent on the property, fitted with dark wooden walls, white carpeting, silver mirrors and chandeliers,’’ People reported. ‘‘The tables were decorated with tall white centerpieces with lavender touches made of roses, calla lilies and exotic leaves in soaring glass vases.’’
Even as the ink dried on the marriage license, there was talk of a ‘‘Kardashians’’ spin-off starring the newlyweds.
‘‘I’m seriously thinking about it,’’ Ryan Seacrest of ‘‘American Idol’’ said at the time.
Seacrest didn’t take much time to think. In 2011, ‘‘Khloe & Lamar’’ hit E!. From the beginnning, Odom seemed a bit stressed. Indeed, he almost pulled out of his ‘‘real’’ life.
‘‘By the third or fourth day, I realized how tough and demanding it was going to be,’’ Odom said in 2011. ‘‘I was like, ‘I don’t think I could do this.’’’
Khloe had warned him.
‘‘We literally film our shows seven days a week for 12 to 18 hours a day,’’ she said. ‘‘They want you to be at your wit’s end and tired. I think he thought we could send the cameras away whenever you want, but you can’t. And I didn’t want to put him under that pressure. He has his first career.’’
That ‘‘first career,’’ however, was quite a spectacular one: By the time ‘‘Khloé & Lamar’’ aired, Odom was in top form as the Lakers sixth man. He knew his wife and her audacious family might distract him from the game. The parade of death in his life — in 2011, when he was involved in fatal car crash the day after he buried his cousin, he said he was ‘‘breaking down mentally’’ — was distracting enough.
But he wanted ‘‘Khloé & Lamar’’ viewers to see him in action — not resting during the off-season. And the Lakers were willing to go along, providing the reality show game footage and access to the Lakers’ locker room.
‘‘The Lakers, of course, had their concerns when I went into this, but I made the promise to them that I would remain the same player, if not try to get better,’’ Odom said.
Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way. Though Odom performed well, he was sent to the Dallas Mavericks in a surprise trade in 2012. And he wasn’t happy about it.
‘‘No disrespect to anybody on that team or the city or the ownership,’’ he said. ‘‘But it’s not a place that I wanted to be after playing for the Lakers, a team that contends for a championship. That’s what you expect to be around. It was hard for me to picture myself there starting over.’’
Most ballplayers who find themselves unexpectedly shipped out have the chance to work out their troubles on the court. But Odom had to work them out on E! as well. His career crisis would be seen twice — first on ESPN, then by millions of Kardashian fans. In one episode, as Khloe shopped for a place in Dallas — a city she had never been to — Lamar yawned, looking miserable.
‘‘Everything hit me at once,’’ he said. ‘‘I’m tired. I’m a little bit out of shape physically and mentally. It’s bothersome.’’ And: ‘‘This is the first time basketball has felt like a job.’’
Odom ended up back in Los Angeles with the Clippers later that year — Bleacher Report called his play ‘‘putrid.’’ When he became a free agent in 2013, the team didn’t sign him.
Meanwhile, life with Khloe was on the rocks. ‘‘Khloe and Lamar’’ was canceled after two seasons — or, depending on who was spinning the tale, just put on hold as the couple claimed they needed a break. There were reports of Odom’s drug use, Khloe’s intervention, a DUI arrest and a trip to rehab. A bizarre tape of an apparently intoxicated Odam rapping about cheating on Khloe surfaced. The couple split, finally divorcing earlier this year.
In an episode of ‘‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians,’’ Khloe put the collapse of her marriage forward as a PR problem.
‘‘I haven’t seen Lamar in a month, two months,’’ she said. ‘‘I haven’t seen him in a long time. So it’s really awkward when reporters ask me questions about Lamar. I really don’t know what’s happening.’’
Odom’s father blamed his son’s woes on the Kardashians.
‘‘They haven’t been a good influence on my son,’’ Joe Odom said. ‘‘It’s been the curse of his life. He hasn’t really accomplished anything since he’s been with them. Without them, he’d still be in the NBA playing basketball. He’d be playing for the Lakers and be one of the top players in the league.’’
From an absent dad with his own history with heroin, this was a bold claim — one Lamar refuted, saying the Kardashians were ‘‘the ONLY FAMILY that has loved [him] without expecting anything in return.’’
But, in dramatic comments captured by TMZ just two months ago, Lamar railed against the tabloid culture his ex-wife is at the center of.
‘‘It’s hard for me to keep my composure,’’ he said. ‘‘To everybody that I know and supports me: I’m sorry, but the dog has to fight back. That’s it. Y’all won. Y’all beat me down, degraded me, said . . . I’m a womanizer, a f--ing drug addict, everything. I probably couldn’t even get f--ing hired by Home Depot right now because of how people look at me.’’
Odom condemned the media frenzy that was a fundamental part of his marriage.
‘‘I don’t believe it what y’all do,’’ he told a cameraman. ‘‘I don’t believe in following people around. I don’t Twitter. I don’t Instagram. It just came with it.’’
Still, he said his love for Khloe had been genuine.
‘‘Me and that girl fell in love,’’ he said. ‘‘You know what I’m saying? That’s our business. . . . Do not disrespect my space. Do not disrespect my character. Because that’s what y’all been doing and from day one.’’
The damage, however, was done.
‘‘Y’all have discredited me, beat me down, took my confidence,’’ he said. The result? Nobody would pay him to play: ‘‘Can’t nobody bounce a ball better than me, and nobody wanna f- with me,’’ he said.
Even divorced and unconscious in a brothel, it seems, Odom cannot escape the Kardashians. His hospitalization quickly became part of Khloe’s narrative.
‘‘Khloe Kardashian Rushes to Lamar Odom’s Side Following Hospitalization in Las Vegas,’’ an US Weekly headline read. ‘‘She’s ‘Inconsolable.’’’