Lamar Odom has been called many things, including the most unselfish, most versatile, and most underrated player in the NBA. He's been called the toughest matchup, the guy who makes the Lakers the hardest team to beat. Lakers fans love him, his teammates love him--he's the emotional center of the team, sports writers love him, Jeff Van Gundy loves him, Khloe Kardashian loves him. What's not to love?
Lamar spent his early years as a Lakers player trying to be the second option to Kobe Bryant, a role he never really seemed comfortable with. In fact, to my eyes he didn't seem to want to be "here", meaning playing basketball. Don't get me wrong, I think he loved the game, but the pressure was probably too much. He also seemed to be easily taken out of a game mentally, particularly when he got into foul trouble. You'd see his head drop and you knew it was over, even in the first quarter. Mind you, this is what I saw, but it may not be what was actually happening. At any rate, it was frustrating to watch, but I stuck by Lamar, hoping things would get better. Thank heavens the Lakers did too.
- He was born Lamar Joseph Odom on November 6, 1979 in South Jamaica, Queens, New York; he's an only child; he's 6'10", but he plays 7'2"
- His father, a heroin addict, was not in the picture and he was raised by two very strong women: his mother Cathy, who died of colon cancer when Lamar was 12, and his grandmother Mildred who took over after his mother died
- He attended Christ The King Regional High School for 3 years, then transferred to Redemption Christian Academy, and finally to St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
- He was named Parade Magazine Player of the Year in 1997, and USA Today All-USA 1st Team in his senior year
- He was a high school teammate of Elton Brand, and played on the same AAU team with Brand and Ron Artest
- He attended summer classes at UNLV in 1997, but was found by the NCAA to have received money from a booster; the coach was fired and UNLV was on probation for four years
- Lamar transferred to University of Rhode Island, and was required to sit out the 1997-1998 season
- He declared for the draft in 1999 and was chosen fourth overall by the Clippers; he was named to the 2000 NBA All-Rookie First Team
- He was suspended in 2001 for violating the NBA's anti-drug policy for the second time in 8 months (he admitted to smoking pot)
- He became a restricted free agent in 2003 and was picked up by the Miami Heat, where he played with Dwyane Wade (his rookie year)
- He was traded after the season to the Lakers, in a package with Caron Butler and Briant Grant, for Shaquille O'Neal
- His first three seasons in purple and gold were marked by his trademark inconsistency, and he dealt with several injuries, including a torn labrum in his left shoulder that required surgery
- When Andrew Bynum went down with his first injury in 2007, Lamar stepped up in his place, continuing to do so after Pau Gasol was acquired from Memphis; his inconsistency reared its ugly head during the 2008 Finals against the eventual champion Boston Celtics
- He went to the bench at the start of the 2008-2009 season and served as Bynum's backup; however, when Bynum once again went down with a knee injury, Lamar returned to the starting lineup and worked with Gasol in the frontcourt; the Lakers won the 2009 championship
- Lamar was again a free agent in 2009, and the Miami Heat tried to get him back; on July 31, he re-signed with the Lakers and joined his boyhood friend Ron Artest (newly acquired by the Lakers)
- In 2009-2010, Lamar helped the Lakers win their second straight championship, picking up his second ring
- In Summer 2010, Lamar led the US national team to a gold medal in the FIBA World Championship in Turkey, the first gold since 1994
- In 2010-2011, he's having the best season of his 12-year career; many attribute his success to his summer with Team USA
- In 2009, at a "Welcome to Los Angeles" party for Ron Artest, Lamar met the woman he would marry, Khloe Kardashian, who was hosting the party; they married exactly one month after they met
- Their reality show premiers on Sunday, April 10 (tune in!); they have their own unisex fragrance called Unbreakable (check out Lamar's website for the video)
- Some of his nicknames include LO, Candy Man, Plastic Man, Elastic Man, and the Matchup from Hell (I made that one up, hee hee)
- Lamar has 2 children with his ex-girlfriend: Destiny, 13, and Lamar, Jr., 9; in 2006, his 6 1/2-month-old son Jayden died of SIDS in New York
- He has a foundation called Cathy's Kids, named for his mother and whose "mission is to reach out and give back to young people who may not have role models, mentors, or supplies necessary to succeed in life ... Is also committed to generating funds for continued cancer research, care and clinics as well as education and awareness programs related to cancer, especially for minorities"
- Before each game, he writes the names of his mother, his grandmother and his son on his shoes; his jersey number, 7, was his grandmother's lucky number
- Lamar wants to be a play-by-play announcer when his playing days are over.
To me, one of the greatest things to see in a Lakers game is Lamar grabbing a rebound and going coast-to-coast for a left-handed layup or dunk. It's a beautiful thing. I loooove LO!
So what do you know about Lamar Odom?