LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Former basketball star Dennis Rodman, facing a backlash for a series of visits to North Korea, has checked himself into an alcohol-rehab facility, according to United States media.
"He has been in rehab most of this week, and I am very proud of him," Mr Darren Prince, his agent, was quoted as saying by CNN.
"His drinking escalated to a level that none of us had seen before. When he came back (from North Korea), I discussed with him on a personal level how concerned I was. We sat down and decided for him to go to rehab. It is a 28- or 30-day facility."
The 52-year-old Rodman apologised earlier this month upon his return from his latest visit to secretive North Korea for saying a fellow American imprisoned there may have caused his own fate. Rodman blamed alcohol for his comments.
Rodman, who reportedly entered a rehab center on the US East Coast on Wednesday, took a team of former National Basketball Association players to North Korea for his most recent visit and sang "Happy Birthday" to leader Kim Jong Un inside a packed sports arena.
The former NBA star was widely criticized for refusing to bring up human rights abuses or the plight of detained US missionary Kenneth Bae during his latest week-long visit.
Rodman had said he planned to return to North Korea next month.
Rodman has developed an unlikely friendship with the young North Korean leader since making his first trip there last February, when he declared Mr Kim a "friend for life".
Mr Kim, who was educated in Switzerland, is reported to be a huge fan of basketball and especially of the Chicago Bulls, with whom Rodman won three NBA titles alongside Michael Jordan in the 1990s.