(Reuters) - Lamar Odom, a former professional basketball player and reality TV star, was reported to be fighting for his life in a Las Vegas hospital on Wednesday after he was found unresponsive at a legal brothel.
The 35-year-old former Los Angeles Lakers standout and ex-husband of Khloe Kardashian suffered a medical emergency on Tuesday at the Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada and was taken to the hospital, the Nye County Sheriff's Office said.
Police received a 911 emergency call from panicked staff at the brothel at about 3:15 p.m. PDT (2215 GMT) on Tuesday, saying that a man, identified as Odom, was unconscious, with blood and a white substance coming from his nose and mouth, Nye County Sheriff Sharon Werley told reporters Wednesday afternoon.
People at the brothel said Odom had been using cocaine and that he had taken as many as 10 tabs of an herbal sexual enhancement supplement. She said the people at the brothel who reported Odom's cocaine use were not certain if he used it beyond Saturday.
It was the latest episode in Odom's roller-coaster personal and professional life.
Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, where Odom was taken, declined to comment on Odom's condition, 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 outlet, E!, also cited unnamed sources in reporting that Odom suffered brain damage and at least one stroke, and was on a ventilator after taking multiple drugs. The E! cable TV channel airs the reality show "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."
The brothel's owner, Dennis Hof, said that, during his three-day stay, Odom had been taking large amounts of "herbal Viagra," a nonprescription product which can dramatically lower blood pressure and interact with other medications.
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 and their divorce was finalized in July, though she has remained in close contact with him.
Khloe's half-sister, model Kendall Jenner, posted a tweet on Wednesday saying "please don't go," that was believed to refer to Odom.
Odom publicist Eve Sarkisyan said in a statement that "family and friends are extremely concerned for Lamar" but warned against "false information being circulated unofficially."
Odom's hospitalization followed a downturn in a 14-season career with National Basketball Association teams, including the Lakers from 2004-2011.
On top of the pressures of the life of 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 has long been reported to have had issues with cocaine abuse, although this has 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 three months for alcohol abuse.
Former teammates rallied to his support on Wednesday.
Lakers player Kobe Bryant left following a preseason 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," Johnson said.
Former teammate Dwyane Wade of the Miami Heat tweeted, "Everyone will ask why or say how could he do this or that. If you're not walking in life thru his eyes, you will never know what it's like."
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.
Love Ranch owner 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. While prostitution is illegal in most of the United States, brothels are legal in some parts of Nevada.
Hof said staff reported that Odom had been taking "herbal Viagra" capsules but that no illicit drugs were found in his room. Brothel employees found Odom unconscious on Tuesday and called police after he started vomiting, Hof said.
Despite their rocky relationship and divorce, Kardashian has remained close to Odom. In an interview with Complex magazine for its August/September issue, she said she still missed him and spoke to him frequently by phone.
"Lamar is genuinely one of the best people I've ever met, and everyone says that when they meet him," Kardashian said.
Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles, Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, Calif., and Jill Serjeant in New York; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis