Oftentimes when celebrities fall from grace, they endure far more ridicule than empathy.
As Lamar Odom was laying near death in a Nevada hospital, the only thing people seemed to be talking about were the salacious circumstances that caused him to be in a coma for four days. Early on, the best prognosis was that he could suffer severe brain damage, and we already know what the worst case scenario would have been.
Though he survived that hellacious night, he is still the butt of jokes and disrespected on social media with regularity.
Most recently, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, a fellow Queens native, hit him with the ultimate low blow by bringing up his addiction to disparage the New York Knicks franchise for signing him. Today, Odom’s thoughts on addiction, family, pain and redemption were shared in a very honest essay that was published by the Players’ Tribune.
Former Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom reflects on his life’s journey. ———————————————— Welcome to The Players’ Tribune, a new media platform that presents the voices of professional athletes, bringing fans closer to the games they love than ever before.
In the piece, Odom traces his inner pain back through his childhood to the death of his mother from colon cancer when he was 12 years old up, and up to the time he was laying in bed emaciated and so week that he couldn’t even muster enough strength to rip the I.V. needles from his arms.
It’s not uncommon for young basketball players to dabble in marijuana. Odom gradually migrated to a cocaine addiction that nearly claimed his life. In this riveting piece, he informs the reader of the pains that caused him to smoke weed. The death of his mother was the catalyst for a lifelong battle with anxiety.
And though his beloved grandmother would transition into the spiritual essence on the same week he initially tried cocaine, during summer vacation in Miami when he was 24, Odom didn’t blame his new habit on her death. He simply describes it as a bad decision.
Though cocaine and crack usage has decreased in the African American community over the past 20 years, many Black folks who were alive at the height of the crack era have learned to be untrusting of, and unforgiving toward, crack addicts. The old adage “once a crackhead, always a crackhead” is still very popular among the 30-and-over crowd in hoods where the dark days are still a fresh memory.
This is the type of prejudice that Odom has been battling during his constant fight to maintain his sanity and rebuild his shattered reputation. All he has ever known is basketball. Now, the father of two has penned one of the most honest, self-exploring essays that I can recall reading in some years.
Lamar Odom Greatest Highlights as a Los Angeles Laker. Keep on Fighting LO!!!
An incredibly skilled talent since he was 14 years old, Odom had additional pressure heaped upon him to become a left-handed Magic Johnson when he was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers. Pressure was again placed upon him when he was tabbed to be the number 2 to Kobe Bryant’s number 1 with the Los Angeles Lakers.
He fought some incredibly powerful demons, overcame seemingly insurmountable odds. But at the end of the day it was the ghosts of an anxiety-filled, motherless childhood that would haunt him.
Now, retired, none of that matters anymore. The only thing that matters is the love of family, sobriety and life. Respect to Lamar Odom for his bravery, honesty and best of luck for the continued fight.