The Ups and Downs of Lamar Odom
Lamar Odom was born in 1979 in Queens, New York, where he was raised by his mother, a Rikers Island correction officer, until she died of cancer when he was 12. His father, who is reported to have struggled with serious drug problems, was not present in Odom's life. After earning attention in high school for his impressive skills on the court, Odom played college basketball for the Rhode Island Rams.
In 1998, Odom's then-girlfriend, Liza Morales, gave birth to his first child, Destiny. (They later welcomed two more children in 2002 and 2005: Lamar Jr. and Jayden, who passed away from SIDS at 6 months old.)
Upon graduating from the University of Rhode Island in 1999, Odom was drafted in the first round by the Los Angeles Clippers – that same year, he would be named to the NBA All-Rookie Team.
His all-star career was just heating up: After playing for the Clippers for four seasons, he played a season with the Miami Heat before switching to the Lakers, where he played seven seasons alongside Kobe Bryant. He won his first NBA championship in 2009, defeating the Orlando Magic.
Off the court, Odom had a very, very special fan by his side: After a whirlwind 30-day romance, Odom and Khloé Kardashian wed in 2009, a relationship that thrust Odom even further into the spotlight. The former NBA star proposed on camera during an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, despite the disapproval of Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce. Their wedding was elegant and lavish with a Hollywood night club-themed reception. In 2011, the two starred in a reality show called Khloé & Lamar on E!.
Tragedy struck in 2011 when Odom was involved in a fatal car crash – his chauffeur driver hit a motorcycle, which in turn killed a 15-year-old boy – just one day after he buried his cousin in New York.
It was then, in 2012, that Odom's career became material for scrutiny by both sports fans and reality TV viewers alike: Odom was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, a disappointing turn of events that was all captured on cameras for reality TV. "No disrespect to anybody on that team or the city or the ownership. But it's not a place that I wanted to be after playing for the Lakers, a team that contends for a championship. That's what you expect to be around. It was hard for me to picture myself there starting over," Odom said in an interview.
Khloé & Lamar was canceled in 2012 after two seasons. "We just want to take a little time off," Khloé said at the time.
After a stint back in L.A. playing for the Clippers later in 2012, Odom became a free agent in 2013 – and the team didn't sign him. That summer, Odom was arrested on DUI charges and pleaded "no contest."
In July 2015, a year and a half after Kardashian first filed, Odom and Kardashian signed divorce papers. "Such a crazy day!!! Very emotional! Thank you all for being so loving and supportive!!" Kardashian tweeted. The proceedings stalled because Odom would not sign the papers, culminating in a judge threatening to dismiss their petition. Shortly prior to their signing, a source told PEOPLE that Odom still had feelings for his ex-wife. (Following an August altercation, another source said Kardashian was "worried about Lamar.")
In October 2015, Odom was found unconscious at the Love Ranch South brothel in Crystal, Nevada. A source close to the family tells PEOPLE that doctors said "cocaine and opiates" were found in his system. Kardashian, who was still legally married to Odom, rushed to be by his side, where she kept vigil.
Following his nearly fatal overdose in October 2015, Odom made his first public appearance at Kanye West's Yeezy Season 3 fashion show in February 2016. "Lamar's recovery is remarkable. Even with all the sophisticated medical technology, it has been impossible to predict his outcome," a source told PEOPLE. "Lamar was in very, very bad shape. Both physically and cognitively. There is only that much help that someone can receive. In Lamar's case, it's very much his own physical strength and all of his hard work in therapy that has paid off. He also has the mind set of a professional athlete. He never once gave up."
Khloé Kardashian filed for divorce from estranged husband Lamar Odom for the second time in May 2016. The Keeping up with the Kardashians star cited irreconcilable differences, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. "She's honestly fine and it's more of a formality at this point," an insider shared. "She's there for him and they're in regular contact and she wishes him well. She'll always be there for him. But as far as their marriage is concerned, that's over and has been for quite some time. It was time to make it official."
After being spotted with a woman at L.A.'s 4Play Gentlemen's Club in July 2016, Odom reportedly headed to Los Angeles International Airport and began drinking at the Delta Skyclub before an overnight flight to New York, according to TMZ. The pro NBA player was reportedly ejected from the flight due to his erratic behavior. "When he was first drinking again, some said he was just getting back to normal – clearly this was just a gateway back to his destructive behavior," a source revealed, who says Odom "is an addict and should never have been drinking again."
In December 2016 — more than a year after his near-fatal overdose — Odom checks into rehab with a plan to stay in the substance abuse program for 30 days. "He wants to stay clear and focused. With the divorce from Khloé being finalized and the holidays coming up, he doesn't want to slip up. He's trying to take care of himself. He really wants to be better," a source told PEOPLE. "His friends and family encouraged him to go in and he agreed and made the decision." Despite the support, a source close to the athlete stress rehab was Odom's idea. "He drove himself, it was his idea," the insider explains about Odom's decision to seek treatment. "He's going to be gone during the holidays, which is when people have relapses and problems."
After completing his 30-day rehab stint in January, Odom was getting back into the swing of things, including focusing on his physical fitness. (He shared a pic to Instagram of himself working out with a personal trainer.) As for the lesson he's learned since finishing the program, the athlete revelealed in an interview with The Doctors that "the most important thing I took away from [rehab] is that I'm stronger than I give myself credit for being."
Nearly a year after checking into rehab, Odom collapsed at a nightclub in Los Angeles in the early morning hours of Nov. 5. Video footage captured by TMZ shows three men helping the former NBA player to his feet as partygoers looked on at the popular Bootsy Bellows nightclub. “Lamar is doing well,” a rep for Odom told PEOPLE. “He was dehydrated and had been in an intense workout earlier in the day. It was also very hot in the club.”