Lamar Odom Announces His Return to Basketball for the First Time Since His Near-Fatal Overdose
Lamar Odom is making his return to professional basketball.
The former NBA player announced on Tuesday that he would be playing in The Dubai International Basketball Championship, in the new year and representing a team from the Phillippines.
The news marks the first time that Odom, 39, will hit the court since undergoing a major health crisis in 2015 and subsequently battling a drug and alcohol addiction. The last time he played professionally was in 2013 for the Los Angeles Clippers.
“I’d like to announce that I will be playing in The Dubai International Basketball Championship this February 1st 2019 !!!!!!! 🏀I will be representing team @mightysports_ph from the Philippines with my 4ever #7 !” he began the post on Instagram.
“To me this is a great warming up for the @thebig3 !!” he wrote, referencing the professional 3v3 basketball league that features mostly retired NBA players. “It’s been a minute since I’ve professionally competed and I hope to be as explosive as I used to be!”
Odom explained that his return came later than expected — he first announced his plans to move to China to play basketball professionally in July — due in part to his past medical crises, which included being in a coma for several days where he also experienced 12 strokes and six heart attacks.
“I was hoping to be ready for the Chinese CBA [Chinese Basketball Association] earlier this year but I didn’t feel that I was physically w[h]ere I wanted to be. ( yet) I needed more time to recover from my multiple strokes and hearts attacks,” he said.
Despite the setbacks, Odom reassured his fans that he was motivated and focused to get back to where he once was. “Im not giving up and going in full force !! Patience and moving FORWARD is KEY!” he added.
Wrapping up his post, Odom thanked his agents, kids, fans, former teammates and trainers, and manager for their support through the years and “for building the road to my comeback life chapter ! LETSGOO 💪🏿”
His ex-wife Khloé Kardashian remained by his bedside until Odom woke up from the coma four days later.
Looking back, the former Los Angeles Lakers star realized just how lucky he was to be alive. “All my doctors that see me say I’m a walking miracle. I had 12 strokes and six heart attacks when I was in a coma,” he said. “Every day, I’m alive. It’s much better than the alternative.”
In December 2016 — more than a year after his near-fatal overdose and the same month his divorce from Kardashian was finalized — Odom checked into rehab with a plan to stay in the substance abuse program for 30 days.
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.)
Nearly a year after checking into rehab, however, Odom collapsed at a nightclub in Los Angeles in the early morning hours of Nov. 5, 2017. A rep for Odom told PEOPLE at the time that he was “doing well” and simply “dehydrated” from an earlier workout.
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Months later, in April 2018, Odom revealed that he had, indeed, been facing another fight with his addiction to crack-cocaine but that he found a surprising source of relief: marijuana. As a result, he decided to open up his own cannabis business.
But Odom’s substance abuse seemed to be behind him for good when he announced over the summer that he was accepting a new management deal with the 90 Plus Group that would relocate him to Shenzhen, China.
In the since-deleted post, Odom wrote, “It’s a huge step for me and I feel so happy to be writing new episodes of my life in another country that’s so HUGE in basketball.” Odom had previously been spotted on the merchandising and intellectual property brand’s social media feed weeks before his announcement.