The 34-year-old athlete announced he's retiring from the NBA with an extremely personal essay for The Players' Tribune published on Tuesday, in which he talks about his love for basketball, but also how his career took a turn after his failed marriage to Kardashian West. Humphries and Kardashian West married in August 2011 in front of cameras for a two-part TV special, but the 38-year-old reality star filed for divorce just 72 days later.
Humphries insists their relationship was "100 percent real," but admits he wasn't expecting how his life would change after becoming famous thanks to his love life.
"Look, I should have known what I was getting into," he says. "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. There’s definitely a lot about that world that is not entirely real. But our actual relationship was 100% real."
"When it was clear that it wasn't working … what can I say? It sucked," he continues. "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."
Humphries recalls the intense embarrassment he felt when he was heavily booed at NBA games.
"I didn't know how to handle it, because I never thought I was going to be famous in that way," he explains. "I remember having this moment when I was getting booed so hard in Philly, and I thought to myself, 'Why exactly are they booing me, though? Is it just because I'm That Guy from TV? Do they think I was trying to be famous? Is it because they think I disrespected the game of basketball?' The last one killed me, because all I've ever wanted to be known for was basketball."
Humphries says all the hate directed towards him definitely changed him.
"My whole life, I was a really confident, happy person," he shares. "But nothing can prepare you for the feeling of walking down the street, or being anywhere, really -- the grocery store, the gas station -- and having people literally running up on you and trying to film you, trying to grab you, saying God knows what."
"I'll be honest, I dealt with a lot of anxiety, especially in crowds," he continues. "There was about a year where I was in a dark place. I didn't want to leave my home. You feel like … I don't know … the whole world hates you, but they don't even know why. They don't even know you at all. They just recognize your face, and they're on you."
The athlete says he also gave up defending himself.
"I didn't want to be Kris Humphries," he says. "It's the craziest feeling in the world, not wanting to be yourself. And I didn't even want to say anything to defend myself, because it felt like I couldn't win. You can't go up against the tabloids. You can't go up against that machine. There's no point. And even if I played that game, I felt like it would be disrespecting the game of basketball."
These days, Humphries says he's going into business, opening restaurants around the Midwest. He also thanks his idol, NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki, as well as the game of basketball and his family for getting him through the tough times.
"I know that most people will always see me as That F****** Guy from TV," he acknowledges. "And I get it. I signed up for it. 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."
Humphries later makes a sly reference to Kardashian West's husband, Kanye West's, lyrics to "Cold," which not so subtly referenced him. "And I'll admit, I had fell in love with Kim/Around the same time she had fell in love with him/Well that's cool, baby girl, do ya thang/Lucky I ain't had Jay drop him from the team," the lyrics read.
West is, of course, referring to his former friend, JAY-Z, who once had part ownership of the Brooklyn Nets before selling his stake so he could launch his own sports agency and represent players. Humphries played for the Nets from 2010-2013.
"And of course, thank you to Jay, for not dropping me from the team," Humphries jokes in his essay.
Kardashian West reflected on her marriage to Humphries during her appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen in May 2017, and said she knew the two were not going to last almost immediately after tying the knot.
"At the time I just thought, 'Holy sh*t, I'm 30 years old -- I better get this together. I better get married,'" she admitted. "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."