The 6-foot-10-inch L.A. Lakers forward has his own record label and apparel line

By Eunice Oh
Updated September 22, 2009 05:10 PM
Credit: Michael Williams/Startraks

The Kardashian family is about to get a bit bigger – and taller.

Meet Lamar Joseph Odom, the 6-foot-10-inch NBA player who’ll join the reality TV family when he ties the knot with Khloe Kardashian, 24, on Sunday.

He’s been tight-lipped during their whirlwind one-month relationship – which has included bar hopping and attending movie premieres together – but here are five things to know about the 29-year-old L.A. Lakers forward:

He turned pro a decade ago
Born and raised in South Jamaica, Queens, Odom began his basketball career during high school. He briefly enrolled at the University of Nevada Las Vegas before transferring to the University of Rhode Island where he led the team to the Atlantic-10 championship. After his freshman year, the L.A. Clippers drafted him before he went on to play with the Miami Heat in 2003. He’s been with the L.A. Lakers since 2004.

He’s had to deal with personal tragedies from a young age
His single mother, Cathy Mercer, a corrections and traffic officer, died from colon cancer when Odom was 12. His grandmother raised him after Cathy’s death but she died in 2003 during a season when Odom was sidelined for injuries. Three years later – on the exact day his grandmother passed away – his 6-month-old son Jayden died from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while sleeping in a crib. (He has two other kids, Destiny, 10, and Lamar Jr., 7., with ex-girlfriend Liza Morales)

He’s busy off the court
Odom’s business ventures include Rich Soil Entertainment, his music and film production company, and Son of Man, a line of Christian-themed apparel, which includes polos, jeans, and T-shirts. “Remember when Jay-Z wore a Che Guevara T-shirt? Nobody knew who Che was. Then Jay-Z wears it and it’s everywhere,” Odom told ESPN. “That’s what I’m trying to do with this [clothing line]. My Man don’t get his props and he’s the biggest icon in the world.”

He’s faced a handful of scandals
While at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, school administrators withdrew his scholarship after a Sports Illustrated article questioned his standardized test scores. A NCAA investigation also discovered he was receiving cash payments from a booster before and after the university said he wasn’t allowed to enroll at the school. A few years later in 2001, Odom was suspended while playing with the Clippers for violating the NBA’s drug policy – he reportedly admitted to smoking marijuana – twice in less than a year.

He’s got a huge sweet tooth
Electrolyte-filled sports drinks? Protein bars? Nope, Odom says he boosts his energy by eating candy – and lots of it. He once told reporters he had “a whole plate of jellybean Starbursts” and “it’s funny because the games I played well were the games where I ate candy for breakfast.” Wrigley even designed a replica championship trophy specifically for him made from Skittles, Starbust, Sour Gummi Tape, Life Savers Gummies and Hubba Bubba.