A Look at Lamar Odom's Tragic Life Off the Court

Hospitalized former NBA star has suffered numerous tragedies since childhood.

ByABC News
October 14, 2015, 3:31 PM

— -- For all his talent on the basketball court, Lamar Odom struggled off the court.

Tragedy struck early for the 35-year-old former NBA star, who is currently in a Las Vegas hospital after being found unconscious at The Love Ranch, a legal brothel in Crystal, Nev., Tuesday afternoon.

When Odom was 12, his mother Cathy Mercer, a corrections officer at Rikers Island, died of colon cancer. His father, Joe Odom, a disabled veteran and former heroin addict (he told TMZ in 2013 that he's been clean for 30 years), was mostly absent from his son's life.

His grandmother, Mildred Mercer, stepped in to raise him. By the time of her death on her 80th birthday in 2003, Odom was 20 and already playing in the NBA.

Odom was also a father. He had three children, Destiny, in 1998, Lamar Jr., in 2002, and Jayden, in 2005, with ex-girlfriend Liza Morales. When Jayden was just six months old, tragedy struck again. Jayden died from SIDS while sleeping in his crib. It was three years to the day of Odom's grandmother's death.

Soon after, Odom established a pre-game ritual of writing the names of his deceased relatives on his shoes. Across the toes, he would write "Cathy" for his mother; on the inside, near the heels, he'd write "Mildred" for his grandmother; and on the outside, he'd write "Grandma" and "Jayden."

Odom seemed to finally have a chance at happiness when he met Khloe Kardashian in September 2009.

The couple was married a few weeks later at a star-studded event with Ryan Seacrest, Kelly Osbourne, Kobe Bryant and all the Kardashians in attendance.

"They're very, very happy," Kim Kardashian told People magazine at the time. "They are literally inseparable."

He also got his first taste of the reality TV lifestyle when their wedding was featured on "Keeping Up With The Kardashians."

Then in 2011, the newlyweds had their own spinoff show, "Khloe & Lamar."

In addition to their hit show, the couple created the fragrance Unbreakable.

"My teammates know that I have a love for cologne," Odom said in a promotional video for Unbreakable. "Creating a fragrance is something I always wanted to do."

But after two popular seasons, Kardashian announced that "Khloe & Lamar" would be on an indefinite hiatus and the couple took a break.

During those two years, the couple had been through a lot. Odom was traded from his beloved Los Angeles Lakers, where he had received the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year award as its top reserve player in 2011 and helped the team win back-to-back NBA championships, to the Dallas Mavericks. A few months into his stint there, he left the team.

Death visited him once again. This time, he attended a funeral for his 24-year-old cousin, who he said was murdered in Queens. The day after the funeral, Odom was a passenger in an SUV when it collided with a motorcycle and struck a 15-year-old pedestrian, who later died from head injuries.

"Death always seems to be around me," he told The Los Angeles Times. "I've been burying people for a long time."

On a happier note, Odom reconnected with his estranged father at his wife's urging.

But he was struggling to get his footing both on and off the court.

In August 2013, he was arrested for a DUI, pleading no contest that December in exchange for three years probation and three months of alcohol abuse treatment.

Then, after months of Odom's rumored infidelity and substance abuse, Kardashian decided to call it quits, filing for divorce that same month. Their divorce was final this past July.

Odom never seemed to get his life back on track after the split.

Earlier this year, he suffered another setback when his best friend, Jamie Sangouthai, died.

On an episode of "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" just two weeks ago, Kardashian expressed concern for her ex.

"This is all just really upsetting," Kardashian said on the show after Odom had reached out to her. "He's distraught and devastated. Lamar has suffered so much loss in his life. I'm always going to be there for Lamar, especially when something as tragic as this happens."

She added, "I'm really on high alert for Lamar because I mean, anything I think will set him to spiral, and that's kind of the last thing I want for him."