In October of 2015, as the Los Angeles Lakers were in the midst of preseason during Kobe Bryant’s final season in the NBA, everything around the franchise came to a pause. Lamar Odom was in a coma, found unconscious in a brothel in Nevada after a drug binge that nearly killed him.
The news hit the Lakers hard, with Kobe and childhood-friend Metta World Peace taking the news the hardest. It seemed unlikely that Odom would make it out of the dire situation alive, but somehow, someway, he did.
Fast forward to June of 2017, and Odom’s hanging out with Lakers head coach Luke Walton at the team’s training facility while the franchise works out incoming prospects ahead of the NBA Draft. Lamar went from being on the edge of death to walking around El Segundo as he did during his heyday, and that experience has changed his perspective and focus forever.
Odom, in collaboration with The Players’ Tribune, shared an incredibly moving story on how his cocaine addiction nearly took his life, what led him down the dark path and what keeps him from going back to a drug addiction that he admits will forever linger in the back of his mind.
“It’s 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,” Odom said.
The entire piece is a moving read, with Odom shining an unfiltered light on the rock bottoms he found while struggling with a cocaine addiction that he fed into “pretty much every second of free time” he could find.
Here’s a very small excerpt with one of the most striking visuals, with Odom saying he “shook hands with death” (via The Players’ Tribune):
You know, it’s crazy … when I was in the hospital, and I couldn’t even walk, all these people came to see me that I hadn’t seen in a minute. All these old teammates came. Kobe came. I got texts from all these guys, like, “Damn dog, the news was saying you were dead. I’m happy you’re still here.”
It kind of reminded me of who I was, and what I’ve meant to some people.
I shook hands with death. But you know what? Ain’t no coming back from that. Even though my funeral would probably be a good funeral, and there’d probably be a lot of people who hadn’t seen each other in a long time. But it ain’t time for that yet.
You can also watch and listen to Odom verbalize some of the article here: