Looking at Lamar Odom's massive 6'10'' frame, you don't imagine too many things could hurt the guy.
Although, if you look past the big smile and sit down to listen to his story, it is enough to leave you speechless. Coming from extreme humble beginnings, Odom has shown perseverance in overcoming tough obstacles in his life.
After finding his love for basketball, Odom never looked back. He knew what he wanted to do with his life and never had a second choice. Playing basketball was the one thing that made Odom happy during his tough childhood.
Drafted by the Clippers in 1999, Odom looked to finally escape all of his troubles and find a great life for himself. Although, Lamar Odom admitted never growing up and not being responsible with his money and popularity.
Now, easily the most known sixth man in the NBA, Lamar Odom is averaging a near double-double with 10.5 PPG and 9.6 RPG this season.
Nicknamed the "Package" for having an outstanding all-around game, Odom hopes to lead the Lakers to another championship this year.
Here are 10 things you need to know about Lamar Odom:
Just like the rapper 50 Cent, Lamar Odom grew up in South Jamaica, Queens, an area in New York City during the intense crack cocaine era of the 1980s and '90s.
His mother, Cathy Mercer, was a corrections and traffic officer who tried her best to keep him from getting involved in all of the bad things, including the drug world.
Lamar Odom had to witness many drug deals done right in front of him, something just about every kid in the area had become accustomed to seeing.
Although, the worst thing that happened to Lamar at the time had nothing to do with drugs.
When Lamar turned 12 years old, his mother was suddenly struck by colon cancer.
"She got sick in January, and in July she was gone. It was tough to see somebody who you love so much hurting like that," Lamar said on his website.
Having no parents, he was taken in by his grandmother, Mildred Mercer. Without her, Odom has said he would have no values or religion. Lamar Odom could have easily lived on the streets after his mother's death and get caught up in the drug scene, as many people in his life did.
However, with his grandmother's help and his own self-perseverance, he decided to channel everything into the game he loved.
As a young child in elementary school, Lamar Odom somehow knew he would be playing in the league one day.
When people asked him what he was going to be when he grew up, he had no other option in his mind other than being a professional basketball player. Actually, when he was asked what he would do if he was not playing basketball, he didn't have an answer. Playing in the league was one of the few things he knew was going to happen.
He became a national star player by his sophomore year at Christ the King High School. By his senior season, he was named the 1997 Player of the Year by People Magazine.
He was expected to attend UNLV the next year until an unexpected twist happened.
After Lamar was enrolled at UNLV, Sports Illustrated published an article that questioned the validity of his test scores. Because of this, UNLV decided to withdraw his scholarship.
As a result, Odom found himself playing for Rhode Island. Ironically, his assistant head coach at URI was his head coach during high school.
After having to redshirt one season, Lamar led Rhode Island to the Atlantic-10 championship. The game ended with a clutch three-pointer by Lamar at the last second.
Lamar owns a record label called Rich Soil Entertainment. He started the company in 2006 and featured an up-and-coming artist, Ali Vegas.
It's a pretty unique label that is a lot more spiritual than most labels in the country.
Lamar has said that the label mixes his unique blend of faith, determination, and creativity with the hip-hop culture.
His label has many exclusive showcases in the LA area that features some of the country's biggest names in hip-hop.
Lamar Odom is a candy addict. He is known for fueling his body before games with mini-candy bars and Gummy Bears.
Sometimes, Lamar Odom actually wakes up in the middle of the night, eats some candy, then goes back to sleep. Weird? A little.
He has his own personal assistant whose job is not only to make sure his needs are taken care of, but to stock up on candy. Lots and lots of candy. So much candy, that it takes an exclusive trip to the grocery store to fulfill.
Watch this video on his obsession. I don't get how the guy isn't obese.
After a very successful season in 2005-2006, the next season promised to be Lamar's best yet.
However, a horrible personal tragedy struck Lamar's life yet again: the death of his seven-month-old son, Jayden, in June 2006.
His son died of an unknown cause that is referred to as "crib death."
Afterward, Lamar seriously considered quitting basketball. Although, he tried to keep his spirits up by channeling all of his energy into his new record label.
Also, he started a new line of Christian-themed apparel, called Son of Man.
After becoming more involved in his religion, it was time for Odom to return to training camp. The entire Laker organization welcomed Odom back and help him through the tough time. As a result, Lamar Odom mourned for the first time to his team and tried to move on.
Because he was able to get out of a tough place growing up, Lamar Odom decided to start a foundation.
In honor of his mother, he started Cathy's Kids, a foundation targeted at helping kids get opportunities they might not get else where.
Also, he received the NBA Community Assist Award in 2004 when he helped two Hialeah brothers whose home and family were wiped out in a tragic fire.
Odom continues to give money to countless organizations aimed at helping kids in bad situations, much like his childhood.
After his son's death from SIDS, Odom launched a clothing line called "Son of Man."
It involved a collection of t-shirts, polos, and jeans with images of Jesus Christ and other Christian figures.
Odom told many reports that kids don't have any icons or idols to really look up to, just rappers and professional athletes. He made a point by saying athletes and rappers have a strong influential power and can make almost anything cool.
"My Man [Jesus Christ] don't get his props and he's the biggest icon in the world," Odom told reporters about the reason he started his clothing line.
Not many athletes or musicians would take a chance at doing something bold like that, fearing they would offend many fans. It says a lot about Odom as a person to stand up for his religion and try and bring awareness to it.
Random Facts About Lamar Odom:
- Lamar was named a first-team Parade All-American after his junior year at Christ the King.
- At Rhode Island, Lamar was nicknamed the “Package” because of his all-around skills.
- Lamar was named Basketball Digest’s 2004 Comeback Player of the Year.
- Lamar received the NBA Community Assist Award for May 2004 when he helped two Hialeah brothers whose home and family were wiped out in a tragic fire.
- Lamar registered double-doubles in exactly half of the 66 games he played in 2004-'05. He ranked 11th in the league in this department.
- Lamar says that Elton Brand and Ron Artest are among his closest friends in the league.
- Lamar majored in communications during his time at Rhode Island.
- Lamar loves to sing.
- Lamar's hobbies include listening to music, especially Jay-Z, and shopping.
- Lamar’s favorites include Goodfellas (movie), Martin (TV show), and Malcolm X by Alex Haley.
- Lamar has a daughter, Destiny, and a son, Lamar, Jr.
- Lamar's best friend outside of the NBA is NFL cornerback Will Poole. They met in high school in 1995, and have stayed in close contact ever since.
- Last but not least, definitely a shocker, I know, Odom is married to Khloe Kardashian.