Lamar Odom's college coach and mentor, Jim Harrick, tells ET that the ailing 35-year-old basketball star still loves his ex, 31-year-old reality star Khloe Kardashian.
Harrick, who spoke with Odom three weeks ago, says that Odom "harbored a hope" that he and Khloe "could at some point get back together." Khloe filed for divorce in December 2013, although the two are still legally married.
"I know Lamar did wrong by Khloe, but at heart, he's a good guy and he never meant to hurt her," Harrick, who has known Odom since he was 14 years old, says. "Lamar felt like the Kardashians were the first real family he had ever had, and they completed his circle of life."
Though, of course, there were also pressures brought on by being associated with the Kardashians. Harrick says Odom moved to Las Vegas, in part, to get away from "the media circus" surrounding his life since marrying Khloe.
"When he can't face things, Lamar runs and hides to cope with the pressure," Harrick says.
Still, the 77-year-old coach says Odom was "really happy and upbeat" when he talked with him less than a month ago.
"He was laughing and joking, and I had no idea anything was up," he says. "I didn't think anything was wrong and he seemed fine."
As for Odom's two children with his ex-girlfriend, Liza Morales -- Destiny and Lamar Jr. – Harrick says Odom "completely loved them" and "would talk about them all the time." He also notes how the death of his son, Jayden, in 2006 due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome when he was just six months old, greatly affected him.
"He became lost and deeply down," Harrick says about Odom's state of mind after losing his youngest son. "Lamar has always provided for his kids and wanted to be a good dad, but admitted he hadn't always been there for them."
A source previously told ET that the Kardashian family "still loves Lamar," though he and Khloe had split. Almost the entire Kardashian-Jenner family -- Khloe, Kris, Kourtney, Kim, and Kylie -- has been spotted in Vegas supporting Odom, though everyone except Khloe left on a private jet on Thursday.
"Lamar is not a bad person, he just has very bad demons," the source told ET, referring to speculation that Odom had allegedly been facing substance abuse problems in recent years. "When Lamar is good, he's good. But when he's bad, there's no way of getting any worse."
"Khloe is absolutely devastated and beyond upset," another source told ET on Thursday. "She has not left Lamar's bedside since she arrived in Las Vegas."
But there is some good news on Odom's current condition. On Friday, ET exclusively learned that Odom had opened his eyes and was able to communicate.