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Former teammates of Odom say he "took it hard" when he got traded from the Lakers in 2011

By Aurelie Corinthios
Updated October 16, 2015 03:05 PM
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Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty

While Lamar Odom remains in a coma and is breathing with the help of a ventilator at a Las Vegas hospital, his former teammates are opening up about his days as a budding basketball star.

The former NBA star played for the Los Angeles Lakers from 2004 11 and won the NBA championship with the team in 2009 and 2010.

His former youth basketball coach Gary Charles told the New York Times he and Odom had been in touch before Odom was found unconscious at a Nevada brothel on Tuesday.

According to Charles, he had made arrangements for Odom to work out at a Las Vegas-area high school this week as the former basketball player recently told his old coach he was committed to regaining his fitness and playing basketball again.

Charles admitted that he had worried about Odom’s health throughout the time they knew each other: “I can’t lie,” he said. “A lot of us were afraid of this day.”

Charles said that Odom, 35, “had a habit of disappearing for days at a time.”

He added, “I said to him, ‘My God, I don’t know how you stand up sometimes.’ ”

RELATED VIDEO: Lamar Odom Hospitalized After Being Found Unconscious at Nevada Brothel

Erick Barkley, Odom’s former teammate at Christ the King Regional High School in Queens, New York, told the Times he wishes Odom “had just come home and surrounded himself with the genuine, loving people who have been there” for him from the beginning.

Barkley added that the sport was Odom’s way of getting through difficult times: “Basketball was his therapy.”

Both Charles and Odom’s former teammates agree that Odom struggled when the Lakers traded him to the Dallas Mavericks in December 2011.

“I think he took that hard,” said former NBA player Speedy Claxton, a high school teammate of Odom’s. “He really liked it in L.A. He felt like he had a family there, with the Kardashians. I think that was kind of the start of it, when everything went bad.”

Confirmed Charles, “Being with the Lakers meant everything to Lamar, and Lamar is a very sensitive young man. When he was traded, I said, ‘Oh, my God, you just crushed that kid.’ Like, if you know him, you knew how much it meant for him to be with the Lakers.”

Odom didn’t have an easy time with the Mavericks. In what would become his final day with the team in April 2012, he told a teammate at practice: “I don’t love this anymore. I don’t want to do this,” the Times reports.

Odom welcomed his reality television experience with now estranged wife Khloé Kardashian on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

At the time E! announced its plans for the Khloé & Lamar spinoff series, Odom told Fox Sports: “As an athlete, you’ve got to take advantage of opportunities. When the ball stops bouncing, it stops bouncing.”

Though Odom stopped appearing on KUWTK after his 2013 split from Kardashian he has remained a part of her life and on recent episodes she fiercely defended their relationship to sister Kim Kardashian West.

Khloé, 31, and the rest of her famous family, with the exception of Rob Kardashian, gathered in Las Vegas for Odom upon hearing the news.

RELATED VIDEO: Khloé Kardashian Is Forced to Make Medical Decisions for Lamar Odom

On Thursday, Kris Jenner, Kourtney Kardashian and Kim arrived back in Los Angeles, though Khloé remains by Odom’s side, where she has been since rushing to the hospital Tuesday night.

Khloé is also in charge of Odom’s medical care as the two are still legally married despite having split two years ago.

A source tells PEOPLE she is "overwhelmed" and struggling to cope with the “unexpected” responsibilities.