(Reuters) - Former pro basketball star Lamar Odom remained hospitalized but was reported to be showing signs of recovery on Friday, three days after he collapsed at a Nevada house of prostitution where authorities said he had been using cocaine.
Odom, 35, the estranged husband of reality TV personality Khloe Kardashian, has emerged from a coma and has been removed from a ventilator that was assisting his breathing, the E! online and television outlet reported, citing an unnamed source.
E! also reported that the 35-year-old National Basketball Association veteran had opened his eyes, saw Kardashian at his bedside and said to her, "Hey, baby," then gave her a thumbs-up sign before falling back to sleep.
Celebrity news website TMZ.com reported earlier in the day, citing unnamed sources, that cardiac tests revealed that Odom's heart function had much improved. According to a separate account in USA Today attributed to a person at the hospital, Odom opened his eyes on Friday morning and appeared to be responding to voices and other noise in the room.
Kardashian, 31, who has been in the midst of divorce proceedings with her husband, has nevertheless remained with him since shortly after he was admitted to the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
The couple split in 2013 after a whirlwind romance and marriage that was chronicled on the reality television show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and its spinoff series, "Khloe & Lamar."
Although the couple signed divorce papers in July, the divorce has not yet been finalized by a judge and they are still legally married.
Neither the Kardashians nor Odom's representatives have given any official updates on the athlete's condition since he collapsed at a legal brothel in Nevada called the Love Ranch and was found unresponsive.
Authorities and brothel staff said he had used cocaine during his four-day stay at the ranch, and had taken as many as 10 tablets of an herbal sexual-enhancement supplement capable of dramatically lowering blood pressure and interacting with other medications.
Despite Odom's 14 years as an NBA player, including two championship seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers, U.S. media have largely focused this week on his brief membership in the most famous family on reality television.
Celebrity media, citing sources close to the family or at the hospital, reported on Thursday that Odom was comatose and on life support, that he had suffered a series of strokes and kidney failure and that doctors were giving him a 50-50 chance of survival.
Odom's two teenage children from a previous relationship issued a statement thanking his fans for their "outpouring of prayers and support for our dad."
"We appreciate everyone respecting our privacy at this time. We ask for your continued prayers," said Destiny and Lamar Odom Jr.
Cable channel E! says it is not filming for the reality show in Las Vegas but has not said how it plans to handle Odom's situation when the show is due to resume broadcasts next month.
Reporting and writing by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Additional reporting by Jill Serjeant in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay