From the archives:: Lamar Odom after tragedies: ‘Death always seems to be around me’
Lamar Odom was found unconscious in a Las Vegas-area brothel on Tuesday and taken to a hospital. Authorities have not provided information on his condition. The following is from an interview he gave The Times in 2011 about coping with tragic events in his life:
Lamar Odom’s voice on the phone frequently was barely above a whisper. The pain clearly registered in words that flowed in stops and starts as he delivered a soliloquy about death and the effect it has had on his psyche.
The Lakers forward spoke deliberately and expressed how emotional it has been for him to deal with two recent deaths.
Odom attended a funeral in New York on July 13 for his 24-year-old cousin, who Odom said was murdered.
The next day, Odom was a passenger in an SUV in Queens when it collided with a motorcycle. The motorcycle went out of control and hit a 15-year old pedestrian, Awsaf Alvi Islam, police said. The boy died from head injuries the following day. No charges have been filed, and the accident is under investigation, police said.
The toll of these tragedies has weighed heavily on Odom.
Death always seems to be around me. I’ve been burying people for a long time.
“Death always seems to be around me,” Odom said in a low tone. “I’ve been burying people for a long time. When I had to bury my child, I probably didn’t start grieving until a year and a half later.
“I think the effects of seeing [my cousin] die and then watching this kid die, it beat me down. I consider myself a little weak. I thought I was breaking down mentally. I’m doing a lot of reflecting.”
Odom said he didn’t eat much for “eight or nine days” after the events. All the while, thoughts of dark moments in his life consumed him.
His mother, Cathy Mercer, died of colon cancer when he was 12. His grandmother Mildred Mercer, who reared him, died in 2004. His son Jayden, not quite 7 months old, died of sudden infant death syndrome in his crib in 2006.
There are aunts, cousins and friends, Odom said, all of them “taken away from me.”
As he began to soul-search yet again, Odom concluded, “I may need to see a psychologist.”
“I like to think about things to guide my decisions,” Odom said.
His trip to New York last month was supposed to be for a Nike commercial shoot.
Before he left, though, Odom was told his cousin had been shot. The funeral was on a Wednesday.
The next day Odom was in the back of a chauffeur-driven SUV getting his hair cut while on his way to Queens, where he grew up.
Odom said they made a left turn and all of a sudden, “I hear a ‘ka-boom!’ ”
A man doing “wheelies” on a motorcycle “had jumped in front of us,” Odom said, coming toward them so fast that it was impossible to avoid the crash.
“When he [the motorcyclist] slid, I thought it was two people on the bike. But what actually happened is that [after] the guy that hit us, as the motorcycle was sliding, he ran into someone else.
“And when I saw him run into someone else, I heard another ‘ka-boom!’ I looked at the person that was hit by the motorcycle and I kind of knew that ‘this kid just received death.’ I’m sitting in the car looking him right in the face. I’m like, ‘I think he’s gone.’ ”
Odom paused a few seconds to gather himself. His breathing was deliberate and his words were slow to come.
From left: Bruce Jenner, Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian play at the 2011 BBVA NBA All-Star Celebrity Game at the Los Angeles Convention Center.(Noel Vasquez / Getty Images)
Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers is surrounded by a crush of reporters during Lakers media day at the Lakers training facility on September 29, 2009 in El Segundo.(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)
Television personality Khloe Kardashian and Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom attend the “AXE Music One Night Only” concert series featuring Weezer at Dunes Inn Motel - Sunset on September 21, 2010 in Hollywood.(Michael Buckner / Getty Images)
Clippers President Andy Roeser congratulates Lamar Odom after a press conference announcing his return at the Los Angeles Clippers training facility in Los Angeles Monday July 2, 2012.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Actresss Khloe Kardashian, NBA player Lamar Odom and actress Kim Kardashian arrive at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Whiteout” at the Village Theater on September 9, 2009 in Los Angeles.(Kevin Winter / Getty Images)
Clippers forward, Lamar Odom, during the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers game at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Lamar Odom sits for his first interview as a Los Angeles Clipper during Media Day at the Clippers training facility in Playa Vista on September 28, 2012.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Lamar Odom warms up before the game against the Celtics on Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012, at Staples Center in Los Angeles.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Clippers forward Lamar Odom and Grizzlies center Marc Gasol wrestle for a rebound in the first half of game one of the NBA Western Conference Playoffs at Staples Center.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
A driver displays a basketball jersey with Lamar Odom’s name as the driver exits Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center on Oct. 13, 2015, in Las Vegas. The former NBA basketball player was hospitalized after he was found unconscious Tuesday at a Nevada brothel, authorities said.(David Becker / Associated Press)
Clippers star Lamar Odom plays against the Golden State Warriors on Jan. 2, 2013, in Oakland.(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Clippers forward Lamar Odom during the Lakers-Clippers game at Staples Center in October 2012.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
The Clippers’ Lamar Odom dribbles the ball past the Nuggets’ Kenneth Faried at the Staples Center on Dec. 25, 2012.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Lamar Odom fights for a loose ball against a pair of Sacramento Kings players during a game at Staples Center on Dec. 21, 2012.(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Lamar Odom listens to a question during a press conference announcing his return at the Los Angeles Clippers training facility in Los Angeles on July 2, 2012.(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Khloe Kardashian is alongside Lamar Odom, a forward for the Lakers, who received the Sixth Man Award in 2011 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel in Los Angeles.
For the record, Oct. 14, 1:54 p.m.: An earlier version of this caption described Khloe Kardashian as Lamar Odom’s ex-wife. Their divorce is still pending.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Los Angeles Clippers’ Lamar Odom sticks out his tongue after scoring a clutch basket against the New York Knicks in the closing minute of the game Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2000, in Los Angeles. Odom scored a team-high 16 points and the Clippers came from behind to defeat the Knicks 78-74.(Associated Press)
Lamar Odom in action against the
“The first thing I did was call my wife [Khloe Kardashian] and I told her we got into an accident. I said, ‘This kid is dead.’ I think just because I had seen death with my cousin, I was like, ‘Oh, I can’t believe I’m seeing this two days in a row.’ ”
Odom, 31, offered his condolences to Islam’s family. “But I’m sure they’re in shock,” Odom said.
The death of his cousin has also put more weight on Odom’s shoulders.
He had the responsibilities of being the head of the family, of making the funeral arrangements, of pulling the family together. It’s a role that normally went to Odom’s “grandmother or someone that was much older,” he said.
Now the burden is on him, although he has the help of “a very strong wife,” Odom said.
“I was leaning over the casket and I was talking to my cousin. I was telling him that I wish the first words from Khloe to him was ‘Hi and not bye.’ It’s tough when someone gets murdered.
“Then it’s what it has done to me emotionally and physically. It’s someone that you love. I’ve had to tell myself that I will get through this. And I will. I have to.”
Then it’s what it has done to me emotionally and physically. It’s someone that you love. I’ve had to tell myself that I will get through this. And I will. I have to.
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