Queensline: Former NBA player Lamar Odom was a hoops star for Christ the King

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, TimesLedger Newspapers presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history.

Born on Nov. 6, 1979, in South Jamaica, Lamar Odom is a former professional basketball forward. He won two NBA titles with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009 and 2010, and was the NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 2011. In addition to the NBA, he also won a bronze medal with the U.S. national team in the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Odom also gained fame for his marriage to celebrity Khloé Kardashian and their appearance on the television programs “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” and “Khloé & Lamar.”

The future basketball star was born into adverse circumstances. His father was a drug addict and his mother died of cancer when Odom was only 12. Afterwards, the young man was raised by his maternal grandmother. He was a hoops standout at Christ the King Regional High School in Middle Village, and at a now-closed high school in Connecticut.

As a high school senior in 1997, the lanky 6’10” forward was named Parade Player of the Year and earned USA Today All-USA First Team honors. As a schoolboy, Odom also played on the same AAU team as future NBA teammates Elton Brand and Ron Artest, also from Queens.

The Queens native played one season of college ball at the University of Rhode Island, earning Atlantic 10 all-conference honors before declaring his eligibility for the 1999 NBA draft. The Los Angeles Clippers selected Lamar Odom fourth overall, and in his first year, Odom was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team.

Odom ran into trouble off court, however, as he was suspended twice during his four years with the Clippers for violating the league’s anti-drug policy. The restricted free agent then played with the Miami Heat in the 2003-04 season before going back to LA in a trade to play with the Lakers. During his seven-season stint with the Lakers, Odom won two NBA titles and was recognized as the NBA Sixth Man of the Year as the best player in the league coming off the bench. The hardwood star then spent a season with the Dallas Mavericks and ended his NBA career where it started with the LA Clippers in 2012.

Lamar Odom had three children with his first wife, Liza Morales, before they separated. In 2006, his infant son Jayden died tragically from sudden infant death syndrome. While playing for the Lakers, Odom met and soon married TV star Khloé Kardashian in 2009. He soon became a regular on the E! reality show “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” before the couple starred in their own spinoff series, “Khloé & Lamar.”

After leaving the NBA, however, the bright lights dimmed and Odom’s demons soon caught up with him. In 2013, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. In 2015, the retired hardwood star was found unresponsive after using cocaine and nearly died.

Although now divorced from Kardashian, Odom began to speak publicly about his battles with drug addiction and recovery. He acknowledges that his drug use may have ended his basketball career too soon, but considers himself a “walking miracle” and looks forward to starting a new career as a motivational speaker.

For further information, contact the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700.

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