Skip to main content

Dennis Rodman checks into alcohol rehab after N. Korea trip

By Steve Forrest, CNN
January 19, 2014 -- Updated 1728 GMT (0128 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Dennis Rodman, 52, enters New Jersey rehab center, agent says
  • NEW: Darren Prince says the former NBA star is remorseful and embarrassed
  • The five-time NBA champion partly blamed alcohol for much-criticized comments
  • Rodman said dictator Kim Jong Un was a friend

(CNN) -- Former basketball star Dennis Rodman has checked into an alcohol-rehabilitation center after facing backlash for his visit to North Korea.

"Dennis Rodman came back from North Korea in pretty rough shape emotionally. The pressure that was put on him to be a combination 'super human' political figure and 'fixer' got the better of him," his agent, Darren Prince, said Sunday in a written statement. "He is embarrassed, saddened and remorseful for the anger and hurt his words have caused."

Prince said Rodman is at a facility in New Jersey, one with a "28- or 30-day" program. He said Rodman drank heavily in North Korea during a recent tumultuous trip to the secretive state to play a basketball game with some former NBA stars against national team players from the regime.

Rodman to CNN: I don't give a s***
Rodman fiery on Kenneth Bae question
Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, January 8. In his latest round of "basketball diplomacy," Rodman made his fourth visit to North Korea, one of the world's most totalitarian states, to participate in a basketball game between a team of North Koreans and a team of former NBA players. Dennis Rodman sings "Happy Birthday" to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, January 8. In his latest round of "basketball diplomacy," Rodman made his fourth visit to North Korea, one of the world's most totalitarian states, to participate in a basketball game between a team of North Koreans and a team of former NBA players.
Rodman, ex-NBAers play North Korea
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
Rodman, ex-NBAers play North Korea Rodman, ex-NBAers play North Korea
Rodman apology: 'I had been drinking'

"His drinking escalated to a level that none of us had seen before," Prince said Saturday.

Rodman teammate Charles Smith: North Korea didn't pay us

Rodman entered a center on Wednesday, a source close to him told CNN.

Rodman -- the colorful basketball Hall of Famer who won five NBA titles while the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls -- said alcohol was one reason he shot from the lip earlier this month and told CNN that an American imprisoned in North Korea since 2012 may have done something to deserve his sentence of 15 years' hard labor.

After Kenneth Bae's family complained, Rodman apologized, saying he was under stress and had been drinking when he was interviewed on CNN's "New Day."

Some commentators have said Rodman's "basketball diplomacy" may have positive effects in North Korea by offering the people there a different view of the West, compared with its demonic portrayal in the country's tightly controlled state media.

But others, including human rights activists, say it's an embarrassing media sideshow that distracts attention from the North Korean regime's brutality. A State Department official said Rodman's visit was "marginally unhelpful" and Sen. John McCain said of the retired athlete, "I think he's an idiot."

Rodman, 52, led a team of former NBA players in a game in North Korea, which he called a birthday present to dictator Kim Jong Un, and, in a bizarre moment, sang "Happy Birthday" inside a packed sports stadium.

Did Rodman's N. Korea trip do more harm?
Ex-Ambassador: Rodman trip unhelpful
Rodman's tearful return

Upon leaving North Korea, Rodman was immediately criticized for his friendship with Kim. A mass of reporters met him at the Bejing airport and Rodman broke into tears while answering questions.

"I'm not the president," he told the reporters. "I'm not an ambassador. I'm Dennis Rodman."

Rodman also said, "I'm sorry for what's going on in North Korea, the certain situations," but he didn't apologize for his visit.

Prince said Rodman wasn't paid by Pyongyang to bring his basketball team to North Korea.

"Dennis is proud to be an American citizen and his trips to North Korea have been paid by sponsors," Prince said Sunday.

Rodman visited during a time of high tension between the two nations. North Korea has pursued a nuclear program, much to the United States' distress.

Rodman visited North Korea in February 2013 with three members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team. Kim was known to be an avid basketball fan while attending school as a teenager in Switzerland.

CNN's Ted Winner and Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Tichleman 1
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Lionel Messi's ability is not in question -- but will the World Cup final allow him to emerge from another footballing legend's shadow?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
People walk with their luggage at the Maiquetia international airport that serves Caracas on July 3, 2014. A survey by pollster Datanalisis revealed that 25% of the population surveyed (end of May) has at least one family member or friend who has emigrated from the country. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
ADVERTISEMENT