In the past, Lamar Odom has touched briefly on the impact cocaine addiction has had on his life overall. Now, in a powerful new essay for The Players’ Tribune, the 37-year-old holds nothing back when detailing some of the darkest moments in his life — including his near-death experience in October 2015, when he was placed in a medically induced coma after he was found unresponsive at the Love Ranch brothel in Crystal, Nevada.
“My ex-wife was there in the room with me,” he said of waking up from his coma. “After all the s— I had done, I was surprised to see her. Honestly, that’s when I knew that I was probably in bad shape.”
Odom went on to admit that leading up to his overdose, he did cocaine daily. “Pretty much every second of free time that I had, I was doing coke,” he wrote. “I couldn’t control it. I didn’t want to control it.”
The athlete revealed that he dealt with trauma at an early age, losing his mother, Cathy, to colon cancer when he was just 12-years-old. His mother was the “center of the universe,” while his father, dealing with his own vices, wasn’t in his life.
“The day that she passed away, I remember going to see her, and I remember how the cancer had just ravaged her body,” he recalled. “Like if I could go back to that time, and you could put me in that room, I probably wouldn’t even recognize who she was. Her face was so small and she was bleeding out of her mouth. And she kept saying [his nickname] ‘Mookah, Mookah …’
“I just sat right next to her bed, and one of the last things she said to me … I still think about it every day. She said, ‘Be nice to everybody, Mook.’ I don’t think anything can prepare you for losing your mother at 12 years old. It leaves a mark on you. I don’t care how strong you think you are.”
Then, raised by his beloved grandmother, Odom revealed that he tried cocaine for the first time around the time she died — he was 24 years old. “When I did coke, I felt good for a minute,” he wrote. “I stopped having so much anxiety. I didn’t think about the pain. I didn’t think about death. So I kept doing it more and more, but I was still in control. It wasn’t like an everyday thing.”
In 2006, Odom’s life spun out of control when his son, Jayden, died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), at 6 months old. “Man, my son was vivacious,” Odom shared. “Real lively. Whenever I used to walk into a room, he would just like … look at me, and stare. Of course, he couldn’t talk, but he just used to stare. He used to use his eyes a lot — let me know that he kinda understood. Like, ‘Yeah, that’s my dad. What’s up, Dad?’
“I just seen him. Gone? How the f— is that even possible? How can he be gone?
“I used to think about what he would look like if he was still here. Actually, I still think about it almost every day. No explanation. No answers. Just … gone. Like that. And you’re supposed to just accept it. You’re supposed to live with that.”
From there, Odom said things got “dark as hell.” Not dropping names, Odom said he hit rock bottom when his wife walked in on him doing coke with another woman, at a motel. “I’m a millionaire,” he penned. “I’d made it out of Jamaica, Queens, and won two NBA titles. And I’m in a motel, with some random person, doing coke. But I just wanted to get high with this girl, and I had no other place to go. I couldn’t take her home. You know, I was being a scumbag. Nothing else I got for that. No excuses. No bulls—. That’s just the truth.
“That’s the thing people don’t understand — anybody who’s lived a complicated, drug-infused life like I’ve lived knows the cycle — with women, cheating on my wife, s— like that. Nights when I should have been asleep. Nights when I stayed up sniffing coke. Lot of those nights. When your heart is beating fast. When you should know better. When you’re just riding that roller coaster, man.
“My d— and my habit took me down all the roads that you don’t ever wanna go down. A lot of great men are fools to that. Fools to that. … You think I wasn’t feeling shame? You think I was blind to what I was doing? Nah, I wasn’t blind to it. Shame … pain. It’s part of the whole cycle. My brain was broken.”
Now, in a better place, Odom credits rehab, therapy, and close relationships with his children, Lamar Jr., 16, and 18-year-old Destiny for getting him through the storm. “I’m sober now. But it’s an everyday struggle,” he continued. “I have an addiction. I’ll always have an addiction. It never goes away. I mean, I want to get high right now. But I know that I can’t if I want to be here for my children.
“Every morning when I wake up, I look at the same pictures. Pictures of people who are gone. My mother. My grandmother. My son Jayden. My best friend Jamie. People who are still here. My two beautiful kids. I just look at their faces for a few minutes, and it’s like a reminder of what life is supposed to be about. I feel warm. I feel an energy. I feel love. That s— gets me through the day.”