"When it was clear that it wasn’t working … what can I say? It sucked," the former NBA star recalls of his 72-day marriage to the reality star
“I was playing at Madison Square Garden for the first time after my marriage ended, and I was getting booed so loud that it was crazy,” he writes in The Players’ Tribune. “I’m talking feel-it-in-your-bones booed. I wasn’t Kris Humphries any more. I wasn’t a real person. I was That Guy.”
The Minnesota native recalls growing up as a swimmer before becoming a professional basketball player. “I was never a person who wanted to be famous,” he insists. “I’m a guy from Minnesota who loves the game of basketball.”
Thanks to 13 seasons in the NBA and his relationship with reality superstar Kardashian, though, fame found him.
“I met a girl who happened to be really famous, and I got married, and.…. Damn,” Humphries, 34, continues. “Look, I should have known what I was getting into. I was definitely naive about how much my life was going to change. But the one thing that really bothers me is whenever people say that my marriage was fake.”
About nine months after Kardashian, 38, was first spotted courtside at one of Humphries’ games, they tied the knot in August 2011 with a $10 million affair, which aired during a TV special. Just 72 days later, she filed for divorce.
“Our actual relationship was 100% real,” he writes. “When it was clear that it wasn’t working … what can I say? It sucked. It’s never easy to go through the embarrassment of something like that — with your friends, with your family…. But when it plays out so publicly, in front of the world, it’s a whole other level. It was brutal.”
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The former New Jersey Nets player reveals he “didn’t know how to handle” the downfall of his marriage, “because I never thought I was going to be famous in that way.”
Humphries’ family and playing basketball helped him get over the fallout that came from splitting from Kardashian, and Humphries hopes that now in his retirement, people remember him for his contributions to the sport.
“I know that most people will always see me as That F****** Guy from TV. And I get it. I signed up for it,” Humphries concludes. “I don’t want any pity at all. But I hope that true fans of basketball remember me as a grinder, as a guy who transformed into a heck of a rebounder, and as a guy who always tried to put the game in the best light.”
Kardashian’s rep did not immediately return PEOPLE’s request for comment. But she opened up about their painful split and prolonged divorce proceedings in 2017.
“At the time I just thought, ‘Holy sh-t, I’m 30-years-old — I better get this together. I better get married,'” she said on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen. “I think a lot of girls do go through that, where they freak out thinking they’re getting old and all their friends are having kids. So, it was more of that situation. But I knew on the honeymoon it wasn’t going to work out.”