After reflecting on Lamar Odom’s alleged drug overdose at a Nevada brothel I knew this tragic event was a walking time bomb waiting to explode. Many of us only saw the happy-go-lucky part of Odom the media has portrayed and were unaware of the tribulations that the former Los Angeles Laker has endured since a child growing up in one of the rougher neighbors of Queens, New York.
The hand Odom was dealt was not a great one, starting at six-years-old when his father – a heroin addict – left home. Then he watched his mother die of colon cancer when he was 12-years-old. The dying of his loved ones never let up for Odom.
During 2003 – his grandmother – who raised him as a teenager, passed away. Three years after that, his 6-month old son, died in his crib of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
With all this loss, he escaped from the intense pain on the basketball court, but when his career was seemingly finished and two of his closest friends died of drug overdoses over this past summer that appeared to be what took him to the brink, when he was found unconscious due to an alleged drug overdose at a Nevada brothel.
“It is quite possible that Odom turned to drugs to self-medicate from the tremendous mental anguish he endured during both his child and adulthood,” said Karen Corcoran-Walsh, owner of Inspirations for Youth and Families teen rehab and the Cove Center for Recovery adult drug rehab.
“We have seen teens and adults that enter our programs traumatized from life events like the loss of a parent(s) and turn to drugs to try to shield them from their intense pain.”
There was also this self entitlement thing going on with Odom as he became more and more famous and people who were trying to break-through to his inner-circle pandered to him.
“We all know that many celebrities and professional athletes suffer from drug and alcohol abuse,” said Corcoran-Walsh. “Often times they lose touch with their own identity and live their lives with a sense of entitlement as if they are immune from the dangers of drugs.”
We also can not overlook genetic predisposition for Odom’s proclivity to abuse drugs throughout his basketball career – starting with marijuana and graduating to some of the hardest drugs including crack and heroin.”It has been well documented that Odom’s father was a long-time heroin addict,” said Corcoran-Walsh. “There have been numerous studies that support the claim that some children of addicts carry the same addictive gene.”
At the end of the day, whether it was self-entitlement, depression coupled with drug abuse, an inability to cope as a celebrity, trauma or genetic disposition – all the signs were clear that Odom was screaming out for help on countless occasions. It is unclear if Odom can return to a semblance of his old self, but if he does in fact recover, he may be the one person who can stop the cycle for the next celebrity or star athlete going down the wrong path.