Former NBA star Dennis Rodman says he received a call from the White House ahead of US President Donald Trump’s historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
Rodman told CNN in an interview from Singapore on Tuesday that a White House staffer called the former “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant to tell him the president was proud of him.
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The basketball player is in Singapore for the summit, but the White House had said he will play no official role.
Wearing a cannabis cryptocurrency t-shirt, dark sunglasses, and a “Make America Great Again” hat, Rodman told CNN he is “just happy to be a part of it because I think I deserve it”.
Reflecting on criticism to his past visits to North Korea, Rodman broke down in tears, saying he received death threats over his meetings with Kim.
The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the call.
Rodman struck up an unlikely friendship with Kim over their shared love of basketball, but he says former President Barack Obama never took him seriously.
Rodman described Kim as a “big kid” who wants to see the world and he expressed hope that the two leaders will make progress.
In 2014, then reality TV host Trump said on Twitter: “Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!”
Dennis Rodman was either drunk or on drugs (delusional) when he said I wanted to go to North Korea with him. Glad I fired him on Apprentice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 8, 2014