His name is Lamar Odom.
Not Kardashian reality star or a punch line many people talk poorly about for living in a state of self-medication as a means of self-preservation. Despite demons being in his closet, Odom kept things together enough to have a solid 14-year NBA career, win two NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and win 2011 NBA Sixth Man of the Year.
Since news broke of Odom fighting for his life after being found unconscious at Dennis Hof’s Love Ranch South in Pahrump, Nevada, many narratives have come out about Lamar Odom the man which are completely false. One true narrative comes from Richard Hunter, the PR liaison for Hof’s Love Ranch who found the unconscious Odom Tuesday before calling 911.
“I think what people can learn from this is that you really have to watch out for people’s sadness and people self-medicating and signs of addiction,” Hunter told Today’s Fastbreak via phone. “It was to my understanding that Lamar has dealt with a variety of drug problems before, but the idea of him putting unknown things into his body that can harm him is very scary. I had a moment with this guy that I’m going to remember the rest of my life when it comes to being scared and traumatized, and he doesn’t even know we’re having that moment because he’s unconscious. I hope that he makes it through this and that I’ll be able to tell him that was the scariest thing that I have ever been through and please don’t ever do that again.”
I first met Odom when he was 21-years-old and playing with the Los Angeles Clippers. Although I was only an intern and had never met him before, Odom took time to give me a one-on-one, which helped grow my confidence as a reporter.
Since then I’ve interviewed Odom several times and have been fortunate enough to even hang out with the gentle giant a few times off the court. I can wholeheartedly state that he’s one of the best human beings I’ve come across while covering professional athletes over the last decade.
No matter if I was an intern trying to break into the world of sports reporting or making strides climbing up the ladder in the business, Odom would always take time to ask me about my immediate family and friends with sincere concern about their well-being. And it was always accompanied by a big smile on his face.
The man better known as “LO” to those who truly know him in the NBA community has one of the biggest hearts a person can have. For as many people who know Odom for being married to Khloe Kardashian and being on her family’s reality show, just as many people didn’t know Odom routinely paid bills and supported about 20 family members on the East Coast just because he’s that type of guy.
Odom openly wore his heart on his sleeve despite his life constantly being surrounded by tragedy.
The first time I talked to him to give him my condolences after his 6½-month-old Jayden died from SIDS while sleeping in his crib in New York the previous summer, I remember how Odom kindly said, “thanks for the support and to simply always keep your loved ones close.” Despite his personal pain, he made it a point to talk to me about my family, my step-daughter Makayla and things which had nothing to do with basketball in our conversation as his way to let me know he cared that I reached out to him.
To honor Jayden’s memory and keep him close, Odom got a very real-life looking tattoo of his son’s face put over his chest prior to the 2007-08 season so that he was always with him. Though he didn’t know how to properly cope with so much tragedy in his life, many people who truly know who Odom is have the consensus opinion of him as a great guy who was an even better person than basketball player, although it was those elite basketball skills that really helped him escape the projects of Queens, New York.
For proof, one just needs to look to social media to see how well respected he is by his former peers and opponents in the NBA:
Our Thoughts & Prayers are with a dear member of the NBA Family, Lamar Odom
— NBA (@NBA) October 14, 2015
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) October 15, 2015
Everyone that reads this post, please pray for my friend Lamar Odom that he makes a full recovery. #MyHeartHurts
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) October 14, 2015
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) October 14, 2015
🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾 Constant Prayers for LO!! GOD work your will for him and his family!!
— Quentin Richardson (@QRich) October 14, 2015
Get well soon LO… Fight! We all praying for you
— Allen Iverson (@alleniverson) October 14, 2015
What most people don't realize about Lamar Odom is that he's a better person than he is a basketball player.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 14, 2015
Every year Lamar Odom was with the Lakers, he would buy the rookies their first 2-3 custom suits, that's what type of guy he is.
— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 14, 2015
I pray ths morning for my brother. Dear God he's one of the good ones. PLEASE watch over him and listen to his heart speak #PrayersForLamar
— DWade (@DwyaneWade) October 14, 2015
For all the people who want to hate on “LO” and have a personal opinion on the way he coped with tragedy or the personal lifestyle choices he made just remember this: This man has touched a lot of lives across the world in only 35 years of life, and even with his flaws, his tragic situation is hurting and destroying some of the biggest professional personalities in the world. If you take one thing from this horrible situation, always remember to make those around you feel that they matter while trying to be the best human being you can be.
Because that’s what Lamar Odom the man is all about.