Hollywood Flashback: The Triumph and Tragedy of Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom - S 2015
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

The troubled former NBA superstar's first brush with Hollywood came with a bit part in the panned comedy 'Van Wilder' and reached an apex when he married Khloe Kardashian in 2009. She hasn't left his bedside since he was hospitalized.

A version of this story first appeared in the Oct. 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

To say Lamar Odom has had a tough life would be an understatement. The former forward for the Lakers and Clippers — who at press time had regained consciousness and been transferred to Cedars-Sinai to begin the long rehab process after spending several days in a medically induced coma following a drug-fueled binge in a Las Vegas-area brothel — had a father who was a heroin addict, and his mother died of colon cancer when he was 12.

But Odom, 35, was a basketball star almost from the moment he set foot on a court in Queens, N.Y. As a 17-year-old, 6-foot-9 guard averaging 25 points a game, he was named Parade's 1997 high school player of the year. His career was at its apex in 2009 and 2010 when he won NBA titles with the Lakers; in 2011 he was named the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year.

Odom's first brush with Hollywood was a small part in 2002's Van Wilder. THR's review didn't mention him by name but said, "I could try to conceptualize the bizarre cameos of Erik Estrada and several [L.A.] Clippers, but it wouldn't matter." Odom's media presence peaked after he married Khloe Kardashian in 2009 (he has two kids, Lamar Jr. and Destiny, with ex-girlfriend Liza Morales; their son Jayden died from SIDS in 2006 when he was 6 months old), and the couple starred in the 2011-2012 E! reality series Khloe & Lamar. She's been at his bedside since he was hospitalized.