Column: Lamar Odom is not a Kardashian

In this July 31, 2009, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom speaks to the media during a news conference after the Lakers signed Odom to a multi-year NBA basketball contract, in El Segundo, California. (Jeff Lewis, File/AP)

In this July 31, 2009, file photo, Los Angeles Lakers' Lamar Odom speaks to the media during a news conference after the Lakers signed Odom to a multi-year NBA basketball contract, in El Segundo, California. (Jeff Lewis, File/AP)

Lamar Odom is not a reality television star. He is not famous because he married Khole Kardashian. Odom is a former two-time NBA champion for the Los Angeles Lakers, a recipient of the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award, and most of all, he is a human being that is fighting for his life.

Odom was hospitalized after being found unconscious in a Nevada brothel Saturday.

The Nye County Sherriff’s Department reported Wednesday that “Odom took cocaine and as many as 10 sexual-performance supplement pills leading up to his hospitalization.”

This news is tragic to hear because Odom is a highly respected figure in the NBA community. It is no secret that the former NBA-star has had a very difficult life. Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated summed up Odom’s hardships in his 2009 player profile of the NBA star:

“The Happiest Laker is the one whose father was addicted to heroin, whose mother died of colon cancer when he was 12, who attended three high schools, had his first college scholarship revoked before the fall semester of his freshman year, became a subject of three college investigations, declared for the NBA draft, tried unsuccessfully to pull out of the draft, was picked by arguably the worst franchise in sports, violated the league's antidrug policy twice within eight months and after finally getting his life together, went home to New York City for an aunt's funeral and wound up burying his 6½-month-old son, then getting robbed at gunpoint.”

It is quite clear that Odom has overcome more obstacles in 35 years than most people do in a lifetime. These circumstances are certainly not an excuse to resort to drugs, but people should understand this side of his life before they jump to conclusions.

Odom will be fighting for his life during the next 48 hours. There should be no stories on how the Kardashians rushed to his side. That is not the headline. Odom should not want anything to do with that drama.

I am tired of reading news articles that contain more references to the Kardashians than Odom. If Odom’s episode makes it on to the Kardashian’s reality show next year, I am going to be sick. People need to learn where the line is and where to stop.

These views are insensitive and naive. Open your eyes, people. Odom was an elite basketball player that helped deliver two world championships to one of the most historic teams in NBA history in 2009 and 2010.

Kobe Bryant may have been the star of those Laker teams, but Odom was the heart and soul. The sixth man usually takes on this role, but Odom took the position to a whole new level.

He was 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, and he could break presses like a point guard. He was capable of grabbing 15 points and 10 rebounds on a nightly basis. He was everything you would want in a sixth man because he was good enough to be a starter, but he accepted his role because it was best for the team.

ESPN’s anchor Scott Van Pelt was very outspoken about the Odom situation yesterday:

"Kardashian reality star?" No, no, no, no. Lamar Odom, unlike those for whom fame is oxygen, whose fame comes in the absence of accomplishment, ... his fame was earned as Sixth Man of the Year, as a multiple NBA champion, as the result of his significant role with the Los Angeles Lakers teams and being a beloved NBA teammate and peer.”

Van Pelt’s opinion echoes this argument to a tee. Odom deservers a lot of respect due to the way he carried himself all those years in the NBA. Most people in his situation would have gotten involved in a lot worse. Odom, however, was not only a righteous citizen, but also a role model.

People should remember Odom is a person even before an NBA star. He is a person who is suffering from a lot of pain and needs all the prayers he can get during this difficult time.


Eddie Leonard is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He tweets@EddieLeonard23.