It was something he likely never bargained for.
Odom grew up poor in the tough neighborhoods of Jamaica, Queens, New York. Drugs were always just around the corner. His father was a crack addict; his mother died of cancer when he was 12.
He could have been the archetype for Notorious B.I.G’s celebrated rap: “Either you’re slingin’ crack rock or you got a wicked jump shot.”
Fortunately, Lamar had the latter. At 6-feet, 10-inches tall, he was a basketball prodigy. He played for a series of catholic high schools noted for their basketball programs and was named Parade Magazine “Player of the Year” in 1997.
He started his college career at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a basketball powerhouse with a shady program. He was kicked out after Sports Illustrated raised questions about his college entrance exam. He was busted the same year for soliciting a prostitute.
Later an NCAA investigation discovered he’d been accepting money under the table from a wealthy booster.
Odom transferred to the University of Rhode Island and led them to the conference championship during the only year he played. Although only a freshman, he entered the NBA draft and was picked fourth by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Odom was coming off his first NBA championship with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 when he met and married Khloe after dating for just two months. He got a taste of what was to come right off the bat when his marriage was filmed for the family reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.”
Under the tutelage of momager Kris, Odom and Koutney Kardashian partner Scott Disick were clearly second to the girls. All Lamar wanted to do was play basketball, but he was constantly dragged into Kardashian reality show dramas.
Lamar was always noted for his inconsistent play, which may have been indicative of drug use well before he met Khloé. Reports say he’d been using for years, although he always beat NBA drug tests.
But the pressure of dealing with the Kardashians exacerbated his problems on court and may have caused him to relapse.
He was forced into a humiliating trade to the Dallas Mavericks after the 2011 season. He became unpopular with his teammates when he, Khloé and his two children from his previous relationship were featured in a new reality show in 2011. She was miserable living in Dallas.
Khloe’s inability to have children didn’t help.
After more inconsistent play, he was benched and sent to the minor leagues to work on his game. He returned to the regular squad, but team owner Mark Cuban questioned his commitment in a heated argument during the middle of a game. He was traded after the 2012 season.
He landed back with the Clippers for the 2012-13 season, but was unspectacular. Odom averaged a career low four points and 1.7 assists per game, while average only 19.7 minutes per game. That left him on the bubble as a free agent for the upcoming season.
The Clippers were interested in resigning him until reports surfaced that Odom had gone missing and was deep into drugs, again.
Sources believe the Kardashians leaked the story, forcing his manager to issue a statement that he was never out of touch with Khloé. Other reports claim the Kardashians are now pressuring Khloé to end the marriage.
Khloe has reportedly given Lamar an ultimatum, get help, or get out, according to TMZ. His latest bust for drunk driving didn’t help.
Given his upbringing, Lamar was probably never well equipped to deal with the pressures of the NBA, let alone the white-hot spotlight and constant emasculation the Kardashians subjected him to. In the end, he turned to the only thing from childhood that could help him cope… drugs.
Those who know him say Lamar is still just a big kid. He’s noted for his love of candy. After the Lakers’ victory in the 2009 Finals, the team presented him with a replica trophy made out of sweets. Indeed, it was a sweet time in his life. Then he met Khloé.