Lamar Odom: A Prayed For Adversary

I didn’t like Lamar Odom when he played professional basketball. He was quite an excellent player at the University of Rhode Island and a solid contributor for the Clippers and Heat before joining the LA Lakers. That was what I knew of him when he played for my least favorite team in basketball. He played very well in a losing effort against the Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals, which I celebrated. He continued his efforts and finally won two championships in 2009 and 2010. The 2010 NBA Finals still sting. It remains among the most painful memories I’ve ever had as a sports fan, and Lamar Odom was a part of defeating the Celtics. Naturally, he was on my list of least liked athletes. I was happy when the Dallas Mavericks swept aside the Lakers in 2011 to end their reign, while Odom won the 6th Man of the Year Award.

However, that’s where things started turning for him on the basketball court. He was supposed to be traded from the Lakers to the Hornets for Chris Paul, but the trade was vetoed by NBA Commissioner David Stern. Odom was personally offended by the team’s attempts to trade him, and requested he be traded to a contending team. The Lakers did so by trading him to the Dallas Mavericks. While Dallas would make the playoffs this season, Odom would languish in the Development League and when he was on the Mavericks roster, he sat on the bench and was traded to the Clippers after the season. He played the 2012-13 season with the Clippers as a reserve player. And while the Clippers made the playoffs that year, Lamar was hardly a part of the team and left after the season. After playing 2013-14 in Spain and finishing it in New York, he hasn’t played professional basketball since. I lost track of Lamar when he got to the Clippers. I just thought he was playing out the string as a backup and would become a veteran NBA player, like what Kevin Willis and Danny Ferry did at the end of their careers. It turns out Lamar had many bigger problems than basketball and got into serious trouble. But how did it go so badly?

Well, look at Lamar’s background. He’s from a broken home. Born in the rough neighborhood of South Jamaica Queens, NY, his father was a heroin addict and was never around. His mother died of colon cancer when he was twelve, and he was raised by his grandmother. He scraped through school, transferred several times over, and eventually made it to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Playing for a powerhouse in collegiate hoops, things were actually going well for him. However, his unusually high ACT score was questioned by Sports Illustrated, and while taking summer classes at UNLV, the school released him from a scholarship. He also was cited by Las Vegas Police for soliciting prostitutes and had to leave UNLV. He went to the University of Rhode Island and found success in a second tier NCAA program. HE helped the Rhode Island Rams win their first conference title, and played well enough to be drafted fourth overall in the 1999 NBA Draft by the LA Clippers. He went on to have the NBA career detailed above, while seeming to have it together off the court. There were some terribly tragic moments, like in 2006, when his 6 1/2 month old daughter died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome(SIDS). And there were moments when he got in legal trouble, like when he was arrested for drunk driving. But most of all, there were the Kardashians. Specifically, he married Khloe Kardashian and became part of a reality TV show. I think he lost his way there. Surrounded by cameras, having every moment of your life filmed, and having that life be as stressful as a Kardashian life. It’s a bad scene. And after many months of separation, the two finally divorced, and Lamar’s life has spun out of control since then.

Lamar was recently found laying unconscious  in a notorious brothel in Nevada, called Dennis Hof’s Love Ranch. He was taken to the hospital and is in a coma from all the drugs he had injected and taken. He has received an outpouring of support and prayers from all over the sports world and he deserves every single one. He’s gonna need a miracle, because as a friend described, he is a walking corpse at this point.

I never really liked Lamar Odom as a basketball player. He provided me with one of my most painful memories as a sports fan, and starred in a reality show that I never watched, but knew enough about that made me not really like Lamar that much. But knowing his full story and his situation, I don’t feel anything but sad for him, his family, and hopeful that something will turn and he will get better. No man deserves that fate. I hope you get better Lamar! This coming from an avid Boston Celtics fan.

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