This isn’t going to be the article where I tell you the tragic story of Lamar Odom. There are already dozens out there by now. If you don’t know the story, there is a great piece on SI.com by Lee Jenkins. I highly recommend it. This is going to be a short article about me watching Lamar all these years and my confusing feelings when I heard the sad news a few days ago.
I’m happy to say this article will be written with a lighter heart now that the news has come out that Odom has come out of his coma and is doing better. Hopefully things will continue to improve and it will be a turning point in his life.
Anyone who knows me knows that the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament is my favorite sporting event of the year. My obsession started in the early 90’s and by 1999, I was a senior in high school and I loved everything about March Madness. I love the brackets, I love the upsets, and I love finding players on small schools who are amazing at basketball. That year’s player for me was Lamar Odom.
I was amazed a 6’10’’ freshman played like a guard. He was a pretty good rebounder and he was left-handed. Left-handed people look cooler doing everything. I couldn’t believe a guy this good was playing for Rhode Island. Lamar couldn’t pull off the upset and Rhode Island was out in the first round. Odom was done too, off to the NBA after that game. But when I find my guy for the tournament, I’ll love them forever. I know, I should seek help.
If players don’t play for my Denver Nuggets, I’m not really a fan of anyone specifically. I appreciate how good they are and wish they were on the Nuggets. I might even come up with 54 different unrealistic trade scenarios that get that player to the Nuggets. But I don’t really follow any non-Denver players. The only exception is my tournament guys. Odom started off great with the Clippers. A few years in, I thought Lamar, Darius Miles, and Corey Maggette were the future of the NBA. I promise I know more about basketball now. (Look out for the BenchPoints NBA preview coming soon) After a short stint with the Heat, he of course won two championships with the Lakers.
After the Lakers, he bounced around the league for a few years. He hasn’t played in the NBA since 2013. I know he married Khloe Kardashian. I know he divorced Khloe Kardashian. But that was it. I figured he was living the life of a retired multimillionaire. After seeing the news about him being found unconscious the other night and reading all the articles, I realized how troubled he’s been for years. This realization hit me in a very strange way… I’ve grown up! Of course I was troubled to hear the news, you never want to see another person go through that. But I couldn’t stop thinking how different my life is now then that 17-year-old kid who became obsessed with an elite athlete that played all the way in Rhode Island.
I’ve replaced knowing how many rebounds every player gets per game for what kind of juice my kids like with their lunch. I’ve replaced stressing over every second of every game with the wonderful stress of trying to be the best husband and father I can be. I still love sports. I just love a lot of other things now. And I’m ok with that. But don’t worry Jerry Stackhouse, Mike Bibby, or JJ Redick. I’ll still love you forever.
Get well soon Lamar.