Former American basketball player Lamar Odom, born on November 6, 1979, is known for his phenomenal career. Having come under the spotlight early with his exceptional skill and talent for the game, Odom made his rise to the N.B.A., playing for the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Dallas Mavericks. He even went on to win two championships with his teams before being dropped from the N.B.A. roster in 2013. His personal life also landed him at the center of several controversies and as of 2022, was also part of “Celebrity Big Brother.” Celebrate his birthday with some insights into his life and professional career.
Former American professional basketball player Lamar Odom has been in the eye of controversy since before he began his career. Born on November 6, 1979, in Queens, New York City, he is of African-American ancestry. His father Joe Odom was a heroin addict while his mother Cathy Mercer was a corrections officer, who raised Odom as a single parent. When he was just 12 years, his mother passed away from colon cancer and he was then raised by his maternal grandmother, Mildred Mercer. He attended Christ the King Regional High School in Queens before transferring to Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, New York. Eventually, he transferred to St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain, Connecticut. It was here that he was spotted by the basketball coach Jerry DeGregorio, under whose wings Odom went on to flourish. While initially, he considered entering the N.B.A. directly after college, future Lakers teammate and friend Kobe Bryant advised him against it and Odom went on to enroll at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas. A controversial media story about his falsified scores and police arrest later, his scholarship was revoked and he transferred to the University of Rhode Island. Playing one season in 1997-98 for the University, when he was named the most valuable player of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, he established his mettle.
Odom’s professional career began in 1999 when he registered for the N.B.A. draft that year and was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers. His spectacular performance in his debut season saw him placed in the 2000 N.B.A. All-Rookie First Team. In 2001, he was suspended for violating the anti-drug policy of the N.B.A., and eight months later, was given a second suspension for the same offense, and played only 29 games. In 2002-03, he played only 49 games and was later picked up by Miami Heat. With Odom’s induction, the previously average team saw a better season, with Odom scoring a career-high nine-point-seven rebounds per game. After just one season, however, Odom was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004 but ended up missing the first season due to a shoulder injury. The year also saw him play for the U.S. national team at the Athens Olympics, helping his country to the bronze medal. Over the next six seasons, he saw highs and lows in performance, much of which was also affected by his personal life. The loss of his six-month-old son in 2006 affected him deeply. In 2008-09, he played as a reserve for the first time. Then, in 2009, he went on to win his first Championship with the team. Later that year, fending off an attempt by the Miami Heat to sign him back, the Lakers offered him a four-year contract. That same year, he also married Khloe Kardashian and went on to feature with her on the television reality show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Later in 2010, Odom helped the Lakers win another Championship in the 2009-2010 season. In 2010, he went on to play for the U.S. at the FIBA World Championship after two previous failed efforts, and the team won gold for the first time since 1994. This feat earned him the record of being the first player in history to have won a FIBA gold and an N.B.A. championship in the same year. In 2011, in 47 games, Odom came in as a reserve in more games than he started and was awarded the N.B.A. Sixth Man of the Year Award, the first player ever from the Lakers to win the award. At the end of the season, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, the defending N.B.A. Champions but failed to make his mark over subsequent seasons. It was also the year when a reality series based on him and his family, “Khloe & Lamar” debuted on television, but it was canceled the following year after two seasons as the shooting was taking a toll on Odom. In 2012, he parted ways with the team after a public courtside clash with the team’s promoter Mark Cuban. Later that year, he was traded back to the Los Angeles Clipper but was in mediocre form. Nevertheless, his team went on to win their first-ever Pacific Division title. In 2013, he became a free agent but despite interest from the Clippers and also from the Lakers, he found himself without an N.B.A. contract. Only a few months later, he was arrested for driving under influence and sentenced to probation for three years and three months of alcohol abuse treatment. The next year, he signed on with the Spanish League and EuroLeague team Laboral Kutxa Baskonia but returned to the U.S. after a back injury. He was then signed on by the New York Knicks for the remainder of 2013-14 but did not play and his contract was waived off in 2014. Four years later, in 2018, he joined the Philippine basketball club Mighty Sports and considered re-entering professional basketball. In 2019, after a poor show, he was deactivated by the basketball league BIG3. After his professional basketball career ended, Odom went on to make several television appearances and in 2022, entered as a House Guest on the television reality show “Celebrity Big Brother.”
Odom’s personal life was as headline-grabbing as his career, particularly his marriage to Khloe Kardashian, which ended in a tumultuous divorce after seven years, fuelled by his drug and alcohol abuse. He has two surviving children from a previous relationship, a son and a daughter. He has publicly admitted to and spoken of his struggles and has been in and out of rehab. During the peak of his career, he was also the face of Taco Bell and even made a cameo appearance on the television series “Entourage.”
After declaring his eligibility, Lamar Odom is picked up by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Making his debut for the U.S. national basketball team, Odom joins them at the Athens Olympics and assists them in clinching a bronze.
In a trade by his then-team, Miami Heat, he is signed on by the Lakers.
With his teams, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the U.S. national team, winning the N.B.A. Finals and FIBA World Championship respectively, Odom becomes the first player in history to have achieved the feat in the same year.
Marking a change in his career, Odom makes his appearance on the third season of the popular American reality show.
Why We Love Lamar Odom
He is honest to a fault
One of the reasons Lamar Odom has managed to stay in the spotlight is because of his brutal honesty. He is known to speak his mind about whatever concerns him, even if it lands him in the middle of controversy.
He influenced his team positively
Back when he was playing for the N.B.A., Odom was respected for his positive influence on teams. He was one of the most popular players among teammates, playing for the team and letting others take the lead when required.
He does his bit for charity
Odom has been associated with several charitable causes, notably in the field of cancer and for underprivileged children. In 2021, he even participated in a charity boxing match against singer Aaron Carter.
5 Surprising Facts
He loves candy
Lamar Odom is famous for his love of candy, and his nickname, “The Candy Man,” is derived from this obsession of his.
He was ‘Parade Player of the Year’
In 1997, during his senior year, Odom was chosen as the ‘Parade Player of the Year’ by “Parade Magazine.”
He majored in communications
He majored in communications at the University of Rhode Island.
His favorite movie is “Goodfellas”
The Ray Liotta classic is Odom’s favorite movie, along with the biographical movie “Malcolm X.”
He enjoys listening to music
Odom is a big fan of Jay-Z and counts listening to music as one of his hobbies.
Lamar Odom FAQs
What happened to Lamar Odom’s son?
In 2006, Odom’s son Jayden passed away at the age of six months due to sudden infant death syndrome (S.I.D.S.).
Who drafted Lamar Odom?
In 1999, when Odom signed on for the N.B.A. draft, he was signed on by the Los Angeles Clippers.
Is Lamar Odom married?
No. Previously, he was married to Khloe Kardashian from 2009 until their divorce in 2016.
Lamar Odom’s birthday dates