It is hardly a surprise that Lamar Odom, whose NBA career was derailed by alcohol and cocaine use, finds it an “everyday struggle” to stay clean, but Odom now has detailed the depths of his despair, writing, “I shook hands with death.”
The low point in his life, he writes in a Players’ Tribune collaboration, came in October 2015 when he was found comatose after a binge in a Nevada brothel and ended up in a hospital for months.
“At some point, the main doctor came in and told me what had happened,” wrote Odom, who will turn 38 in November. “He said, ‘Mr. Odom, you’ve been in a coma for the last four days. Do you understand?’ I couldn’t talk. So I just nodded. He said, ‘It’s a miracle that you’re here. We didn’t think you were going to make it.’ ”
There were a number of times in his life when that could have been said of Odom, who last played in the NBA in the 2012-13 season, but he admitted that he was out of control in a different way. “At that point in my life, I was doing coke every day. Pretty much every second of free time that I had, I was doing coke. I couldn’t control it.”
His estranged wife, Khloe Kardashian, helped him recover and they appeared to reconcile, only to break up again when a video of him drinking became public. His consistent problem, though, was cocaine, which is, he writes, “a hell of a drug.
“It will make you do things you never thought you’d do. It will turn you into a different person. It will put you in situations where you say to yourself, ‘How the [expletive] did I get here?’
“When I was in that hospital bed, I kept asking myself that question. And I kept thinking about all the people in my life who aren’t here anymore. Mostly, I thought about my mother. My dad wasn’t really around when I was a kid. He had his own problems with addiction. But my mother was my best friend in the world. She was just so caring. My first memory in life is hearing the sound of her voice. She had these really wide eyes and a real soft voice.”
Odom lost his mother to colon cancer when he was 12, and loss is a theme that runs through his life and addiction. There was the loss of his baby son to sudden infant death syndrome in 2006, a 2011 car crash that killed a 15-year-old boy, the death of two close friends in June 2015, and so many drugs. He played for four NBA teams and was part of two Los Angeles Lakers championship squads.
His children, 18-year-old Destiny and 16-year-old Lamar Jr., were instrumental in getting him straightened out.
“When I was able to talk again, [Destiny] told me straight up, ‘Dad, you need to get yourself help or I’m not going to talk to you again.’ ”
His children came to therapy with him and, he writes, “After one of the sessions, my daughter told me, ‘This was good, but I don’t ever want you to be in here again.’ ”
Although he is sober now, he writes that he faces “an everyday struggle. I have an addiction. I’ll always have an addiction. It never goes away. I mean, I want to get high right now. But I know that I can’t if I want to be here for my children.”