LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Basketball and reality TV star Lamar Odom was reportedly fighting for his life in a Las Vegas hospital on Wednesday after he was found unresponsive at a legal brothel, where employees said he used cocaine and a sexual performance-enhancing supplement, a sheriff said.
The 35-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers standout and ex-husband of Khloe Kardashian was stricken on Tuesday at the Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada and was taken to the hospital, according to the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.
The Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas, where Odom was taken, declined to comment on Odom’s condition on Wednesday, citing patient confidentiality.
But celebrity website TMZ.com cited unidentified sources as saying Odom was in a coma and that some of his organs were failing. Another celebrity news outlet, E! - also citing unnamed sources - reported that Odom had suffered brain damage and at least one stroke, and was on a ventilator after taking multiple drugs.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said authorities received an emergency call from panicked brothel staff on Tuesday afternoon, saying that a man, identified as Odom, was unconscious, with blood and a white substance coming from his nose and mouth.
“During that call, the reporting parties informed the Nye County Sheriff’s Office dispatch the male had been using cocaine,” Wehrly said. “They confirmed his usage on Saturday but were unsure if it had continued” after that.
The callers also said Odom had taken as many as 10 tablets of a herbal sexual enhancement supplement, Wehrly said.
Love Ranch owner Dennis Hof said earlier that, during his three-day stay, Odom had been taking large amounts of “herbal Viagra”, a non-prescription product which can dramatically lower blood pressure and interact with other medications.
The sheriff’s department obtained a search warrant so that it could test Odom’s blood, Wehrly said. The sheriff said he could face drug charges if the investigation determines he was using cocaine.
Khloe Kardashian, whose whirlwind romance with Odom was captured in “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” and its spin-off, “Khloe and Lamar”, was at his bedside, TMZ and Us Weekly reported.
The couple split in 2013 after four years of marriage. Their divorce was finalized in July, though she has remained close to him.
Kardashian’s mother, Kris Jenner, posted a photo on her Instagram account late Wednesday of Odom in his Lakers uniform, asking fans to “please pray for Lamar #ourfighter”.
Khloe’s half-sister, model Kendall Jenner, posted a tweet on Wednesday saying “please don’t go,” that was believed to refer to Odom.
“Family and friends are extremely concerned for Lamar,” Odom’s publicist, Eve Sarkisyan, said in a statement.
His hospitalization was the latest episode in a roller-coaster personal and professional life. It came after a downturn in a 14-season career with National Basketball Association teams, including the Lakers from 2004-2011.
On top of the pressures faced by a top NBA player, Odom, whose mother died when he was 12, had to deal with being a reality TV star after marrying Kardashian.
The 6-foot, 10-inch-tall (2-metre) athlete had long been reported to have had issues with cocaine abuse, although this had never been publicly confirmed. He has admitted only to using marijuana.
During the 2000-2001 season, Odom was suspended for violating the NBA’s antidrug policy. In 2013, he pleaded no contest in Los Angeles to a charge of driving under the influence and was ordered to undergo rehabilitation for alcohol abuse.
Former teammates rallied to his support.
Lakers player Kobe Bryant left following a pre-season game to visit Odom in the hospital. Others took to Twitter.
“I have been praying all morning for my good friend and Laker great, Lamar Odom, that God will bless him to pull through,” former Lakers great Earvin “Magic” Johnson, said in a tweet. “What most people don’t realize about Lamar Odom is that he’s a better person than he is a basketball player.”
Odom won two championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. Currently a free agent, he last played for the Los Angeles Clippers during the 2012-13 season and is no longer attached to any team.
Prostitution is illegal in most of the United States, but in some parts of Nevada brothels, including Hof’s Love Ranch, are legal.
Hof said Odom had arrived on Saturday. “He was polite and reserved, and he told multiple employees that he was there to get some privacy and spend some time relaxing,” Hof said.
Additional by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif., and Jill Serjeant in New York; Writing by Eric Johnson and Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis