Tristan Thompson’s apology to Khloé marks a turning point for one of reality TV’s most cringeworthy sagas
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By Emily Yahr
After five years, countless tabloid headlines, tons of rumours and many story lines on Keeping Up With the Kardashians, could the Khloé Kardashian-Tristan Thompson saga finally be coming to an end?
After all, it would be hard for any couple to recover from multiple cheating scandals – the latest reportedly culminating in the very dramatic message that Thompson posted to Instagram Monday night.
Thompson, an NBA player who won a championship with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, confirmed that a paternity test has revealed that he recently fathered a baby boy with fitness model Maralee Nichols.
The situation became public last year when Nichols sued Thompson for child support; in court documents obtained by the Daily Mail, Thompson admitted to having a sexual relationship with Nichols but initially disputed her claim that he was the father.
However, given the DNA results, Thompson took the unusual step of announcing the news on Instagram – and posted a grovelling apology to Kardashian, the reality star and mother of his 3-year-old daughter, True.
Although the timeline is convoluted (the never-married couple has had an on-again-off-again relationship for years) it appears that he and Kardashian were together when Nichols got pregnant.
“I sincerely apologise to everyone I’ve hurt or disappointed throughout this ordeal both publicly and privately,” Thompson wrote to his 3.5 million followers.
“Khloé, you don’t deserve this.
“You don’t deserve the heartache and humiliation I have caused you.
“You don't deserve the way I have treated you over the years.
“My actions certainly have not lined up with the way I view you.
“I have the utmost respect and love for you.
“Regardless of what you may think.
“Again, I am so incredibly sorry.”
Even for the Kardashians, this is a lot: Thompson and Kardashian's relationship – and Thompson's rumoured infidelity – fuelled an enormous amount of interest in the famous family and their reality TV empire. E!’s Keeping Up With the Kardashians, which ended last June after 20 seasons, devoted plenty of airtime to addressing rumours that cropped up about the pair.
Their journey was often cringe-inducing to watch, as deeply personal issues played out in front of millions of viewers.
This latest twist in their saga also marks a turning point: The family is launching a new Hulu show this year, starring Khloé, Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, along with Kris, Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
Titled The Kardashians, the show will be a “new, intimate journey into their lives”, the streaming service says.
Now, as Kris, Khloé, Kim and Kourtney are executive producers on the series, the family gets to decide on their own terms how to tackle this latest and upsetting chapter for Khloé.
Thompson originally made his debut on the previous show in 2017, when Khloé Kardashian brought him to a Kanye West concert in Miami to meet her sisters.
(West and Kim Kardashian were married at the time.) Paparazzi photos of the two had cropped up online, but Khloé enjoyed withholding the details from her family for as long as possible.
“So, I see pictures of Khloe with some NBA player,” Kim told the E! cameras.
“And even though I know not to believe everything on the Internet, Khloé and an NBA player do go hand-in-hand.”
The tone of that episode was markedly different from one the following year, when cameras captured each family member's individual reaction to learning that a video had been posted online that showed Thompson kissing another woman.
It was particularly unfortunate timing, given that Khloé was nine months pregnant and about to give birth at any second.
"Khloé's gonna die," Kim said.
"This is really shocking and heartbreaking," Kourtney added.
Viewers also got a ringside seat to Khloé's drama in a Cleveland hospital; just as she was about to have her baby, Thompson walked into the room.
(At one point, Kim, standing behind Thompson, dragged her finger across her throat in the gesture for “I'll kill him”.)
Later, Khloé told viewers that she let Thompson attend the birth because “regardless of what Tristan did to me, I was never going to take that moment away from True or Tristan. She should not be punished for his actions”.
Things became worse: An internet frenzy broke out in early 2019 when TMZ reported that Khloé broke up with Thompson after he cheated on her with Jordyn Woods, a model and best friend of Kylie.
Woods, who became one of the most-Googled people of 2019 after this incident, went on Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk to try to clear her name (she said the two just kissed once after drinking at a party), but the Kardashians wouldn’t let go; Khloé tweeted that Woods had broken up her family.
Rumours about Thompson’s behaviour continued.
In summer 2020, the tabloids reported they were getting back together.
Khloé stayed mum about their status, but appeared to confirm the reunion with an Instagram post of the two of them, with baby True, on Thompson’s 30th birthday in March 2021.
"The ones that are meant to be are the ones who go through everything that is designed to tear them apart and they come out even stronger than they were before,“ she wrote.
“I can't wait for all the memories.
“This is when life just starts getting good!”
Alas, as everyone now knows (thanks to court documents), Thompson said he and Nichols slept together on his birthday.
Khloé, 37, and Thompson reportedly broke things off again in June, before Nichols’s lawsuit became public.
Does Thompson’s apology on signal an end to this chapter of the Kardashian family epic?
With a new show on the way and millions of Instagram followers waiting to see what happens next, there can really be just one response: Stay tuned.
This article first appeared in Saturday Insider, Jan 15, 2022