Lamar Odom's Life Was Hard, Which Is Why He Deserves A Lot More Than What He's Been Dealt
I was never the biggest Lakers fan, but I always rooted for Lamar Odom. It wasn't because he's a two-time NBA champion. It wasn't because he was rightfully named Sixth Man of the Year. It wasn't because he was married to Khloé Kardashian. It was because even though Lamar Odom's life was hard, beyond what any of us could ever imagine, the man overcame adversity time and time again.
Before the reality TV cameras and multimillion-dollar NBA contracts, there was Little Lloyd, a lanky candy-loving kid from Queens, New York, whose talent could have been sidelined at any moment by troubles at home. Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated probably summed it best in his poignant 2009 profile of the basketball star:
The Happiest Laker is the one whose father was addicted to heroin, whose mother died of colon cancer when he was 12, who attended three high schools, had his first college scholarship revoked before the fall semester of his freshman year, became a subject of three college investigations, declared for the NBA draft, tried unsuccessfully to pull out of the draft, was picked by arguably the worst franchise in sports, violated the league's antidrug policy twice within eight months and after finally getting his life together, went home to New York City for an aunt's funeral and wound up burying his 6½-month-old son, then getting robbed at gunpoint.
In the years after, Odom was traded away in tears from the team he loved, saw his highly publicized marriage fail, got a DUI, went to rehab, was vilified as a drug addict, and lost two best friends to drug-related deaths within a week of each other. That smile we loved on the court hid a lot of pain that was happening off.
Odom has always been a good guy. There's a reason why the league has come to a standstill at reports of his hospitalization, why former teammate Kobe Bryant left his pre-season game in the third quarter for "personal reasons" — and showed up at Odom's hospital.
Odom is not perfect. But he is the guy you always hoped would work past his inner demons — some he created and others that were dealt by chance. Former coach Phil Jackson in 2006 understood, telling The New York Times:
Lamar is one of those hard-knock kids. We just keep saying, ‘You’re a good person, good things will happen to you.’ There are times when it doesn’t look that way, but we tell him there’s a karmic action in life that will work for you.
Things don't look good right now, but the hope is that Odom will once again persevere so good things can once again come his way. Because in all honesty, he deserves it, which is why all of us should be praying up for Lamar.