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
At moments, Lamar Odom seemed to lead a charmed life. Two NBA world championship rings playing for the Los Angeles Lakers. Marriage to one of television’s Kardashians. His own music and film production company.
But tragedy has long clung to the troubled 35-year-old athlete, who was found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel and remains in critical condition at a Las Vegas hospital.
“Death always seems to be around me,” Odom told the Los Angeles Times in 2011. “I’ve been burying people for a long time.”
Born in the South Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., Odom grew up during the height of the crack cocaine epidemic.
His father, a heroin addict, left the family when Odom was young, and his mother died of colon cancer when he was 12.
But Odom fought his way out of those beginnings with the help of a prodigious talent on the basketball court. He played for the University of Rhode Island before being drafted by the Clippers in 1999 as the No. 4 overall pick.
Even as his playing career was taking off, though, he experienced more personal tragedies: His grandmother, who raised him in Queens, died in 2003, when Odom was 23.
Overwhelmed with grief, Odom contemplated leaving the game.
Instead, he poured himself into his various passions, including his record label, Rich Soil Entertainment, and a line of Christian-themed apparel, Son of Man.
He wore No. 7 on his jersey because his grandmother had always believed it was her lucky number. He wore a tattoo of his son, Jayden, on his chest above his heart and had an image of his mother tattooed on his back.
Before every Lakers game, Odom was known to write his family’s names on his white, purple and gold Nikes: “Cathy,” for his mother, “Mildred,” his grandmother, and “Jayden.” It was a ritual that was well-known among coaches and teammates.
Reminding himself of the traumas seemed to inspire the 6-foot-10-inch forward on the court.
“Just the way that I try to just always remember them,” Odom once told The Times. “As time goes by, sometimes it’s human nature to forget.”
The day after the funeral, Odom was in the back seat of an SUV on his way to Queens when the car struck a motorcyclist. Odom watched as the motorcycle careened out of control and hit a 15-year-old pedestrian, who died from head injuries the next day.
“I’m sitting in the car looking him right in the face. I’m like, ‘I think he’s gone,’ ” Odom recalled to The Times in 2011.
“I think the effects of seeing [my cousin] die and then watching this kid die, it beat me down,” he told The Times then. “I consider myself a little weak. I thought I was breaking down mentally. I’m doing a lot of reflecting.”
Odom credited his “very strong wife,” Khloe Kardashian, as the source of his strength as he dealt with the twin tragedies. They wed in 2009, the same year the Lakers won the first of two championships. He said he owed much of his success during that period to their marriage and her stabilizing influence.
“You know how things can just line up in life?” he told Lakers.com in 2011. “I met Khloe at the perfect time. The stability she and her family bring me is why I’m at peace. I think I have gotten to a new point as a man, as a father, as a basketball player.”
Odom was a vital part of the Lakers’ NBA championships in 2009 and 2010, and, in recognition of his important role coming off the bench, he won the league’s Sixth Man of the Year award in 2011. The vote was a landslide: Out of 117 possible first-place votes, he received 96.
As he rose to accept the honor in a Los Angeles hotel ballroom, he choked up, tears welling in his eyes.
“There’s a couple of people I wish was here to see it,” he said, later adding that they were his mother and grandmother.
In January 2012, a month after he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, Odom reflected on the electricity he felt from the crowds at every game.
“The energy that was passed from them to me always made everything feel all right,” he told The Times then. “To feel them root for you because they like you and see you evolve into a man and someone who’s consistently putting it out for them, it’s awesome. It’s the best feeling in the world as far as basketball is concerned.”
But things quickly spiraled out of control for Odom after rumors of his drug use and infidelity preceded the unraveling of his marriage to Kardashian in 2013.
That year, there were reports that Odom had gone missing after a fight with Kardashian. The following week, he was involved in a minor car crash involving a Los Angeles Times reporter and later was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after California Highway Patrol officers spotted him on the 101 Freeway driving “in a serpentine manner.”
Kardashian filed for divorce Dec. 13, 2013, and the process stretched on almost two years. Both parties signed final papers in July, but the case is still pending judicial review in L.A. Superior Court.
FOR THE RECORD:
An earlier version of this article stated that Kardashian and Odom’s divorce was finalized in July. The divorce is still pending.
A month earlier, Jamie Sangouthai, Odom’s best friend and best man at his wedding, died. The cause was necrotizing fasciitis, a flesh-eating disease, caused by chronic drug abuse, according to the L.A. County coroner.
In early August, paparazzi caught Odom confronting his ex outside a Beverly Hills gym and demanding that she talk to him.
“I love Lamar and care about him a lot. It makes me feel good to hear his voice and know that he’s OK,” Khloe Kardashian said during the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” episode that aired Sunday.
“I’m really on high alert for Lamar,” she said, “because, I mean, anything I think will set him to spiral, and that’s kind of the last thing I want for him.”
Staff writers Broderick Turner and Christie D’Zurilla contributed to this report.
For more breaking news, follow me @cmaiduc
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