Lamar Odom biography
Born on November 6, 1979, in Queens, New York, Lamar Odom used basketball to help him through a traumatic childhood. As a high school standout, he was named Player of the Year by Parade magazine. After declaring his eligibility for the NBA Draft following his freshman year of college, he was selected by the struggling Los Angeles Clippers. Following stints with the Miami Heat, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, Odom was traded back to the Los Angeles Clippers. Outside of basketball, he is known for his highly publicized relationship with television personality Khloé Kardashian.
Born in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, on November 6, 1979, Lamar Joseph Odom grew up during New York City's difficult crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980s and '90s. His own father, Joseph, was a disable veteran and heroin addict; his mother, Cathy Mercer, with whom he was very close, raised him as a single parent. A corrections and traffic officer, Mercer was determined that her son avoid the dangerous streets around him. Odom had been introduced to basketball around age 7, and practiced hard to be good at the game he loved.
Basketball fit both Odom's physicality and his increasing athletic skill. But an unspeakable tragedy hit right before his teens: His mother died of colon cancer when he was 12 years old. He was then sent to live with his grandmother, Mildred Mercer, who urged him to focus on his studies and sports in an effort to keep him off the streets.
By high school, Odom was getting national attention. He attended Christ the King High School in Queens and Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, New York, then played for St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain, Connecticut, during his senior year. During this time, he was named "Player of the Year" by Parade magazine, as well as to USA Today's All-USA First Team.
Odom attended the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, enrolling in summer classes, but the university released him when Sports Illustrated questioned his high ACT score. Though he transferred to the University of Rhode Island, he was not allowed to play during the 1997-98 season. After playing for one season at Rhode Island, Odom declared his eligibility for the 1999 NBA Draft, and was selected by the struggling Los Angeles Clippers franchise as the fourth overall pick.
Pro Basketball Career
When Odom joined the Los Angeles Clippers, they were largely known for their losing record. Within three seasons, however, the team was a contender for a playoff spot. Odom had his share of successes and challenges, including unexpected injuries and another personal tragedy: the death of his revered grandmother in 2003.
When Odom became a free agent, the Miami Heat offered him a $63 million contract that the Clippers chose not to match. Teaming with emerging superstar Dwayne Wade in the 2003-04 season, Odom averaged 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, leading Miami to its first playoff series win in four years. Following that season, Odom represented the United States at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, which he considers one of his career's greatest honors.
Following a single season in Miami, Odom and teammates Caron Butler and Brian Grant were traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Shaquille O'Neal. During his seven seasons back in Los Angeles, he merged his unique playing style with that of Lakers star Kobe Bryant to a mostly successful effect. Odom helped the team win two NBA championships, in 2009 and 2010.
At the end of 2011, Odom was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in a deal that he wasn't happy with. Less than six months later, he parted ways with the Mavericks, and in June 2012, he was traded back to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a four-team deal.
Odom is the father of three children, all with former girlfriend Liza Morales: daughter Destiny, who was born in 1998, and sons Lamar Jr. and Jayden, born in 2002 and 2005, respectively. Jayden died from SIDS as an infant in 2006.
On September 27, 2009, Odom married reality television star Khloé Kardashian, best known for appearing with her family—including sisters Kim and Kourtney—on the popular series Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The couple's wedding was captured during the show's filming, but their marriage quickly spawned a new reality show, Khloé and Lamar—one of multiple spin-offs that Keeping Up with the Kardashians has given rise to. Among many personal topics, Khloé and Lamar has shed light on the couple's desire—and struggles—to have children. (Khloé is also known for appearing on Kourtney and Khloé Take Miami, which premiered in 2009.)
Marital and Substance Problems
In August of 2013, rumors began to develop in regards to Odom's relationship with Kardashian. After reports of infidelity were reported by TMZ, other reports of drug abuse began to surface as well. Not long after, it was reported that Odom was believed to have been reported missing by his wife. Although Odom's location and whereabouts were revealed after 72 hours by an unnamed source via ESPN, it was also confirmed in the announcement that Odom was getting help from friends for an ongoing drug abuse problem.
A few days after it was confirmed that he wasn't missing, Odom was arrested on August 30, 2013, for suspicion of driving under the influence. Following his arrest, Odom checked into rehab, although he left after having spent slightly more than 24 hours in the facility. The peculiar series of events has led to reports that the couple is separated; however neither party has confirmed the rumor.