Just a few years ago, Lamar Odom was clinging to life in a Las Vegas hospital. Soon, he’ll be playing professional basketball again.
Odom, 39, will play in the BIG3, a professional 3-on-3 half-court basketball league founded by producer, actor, and music legend Ice Cube and entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz. Odom will join Gilbert Arenas, Perry Jones III, Craig Smith, Royce White and Frank Robinson on the Enemies, a team added to the league this year.
There are 12 teams in the BIG3, with rosters full of former NBA players. The league is entering its third season.
Odom last played in the NBA in the 2012-13 season, when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers. He spent 14 seasons in the league with the Clippers, Heat, Lakers and Mavericks, winning two NBA championships with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010. He briefly played in Spain in 2014.
Odom: I refuse to listen to my fears
Odom wrote about his return to competitive play in an Instagram post on April 18.
“The reason I am making a comeback to basketball is because I REFUSE to listen to my fears but instead follow my heart,” Odom said. “My heart, telling me that I have to play basketball one more time to show people that you can OVERCOME addiction and LIVE a happy life enjoying the little things.
“I used to win NBA championships and chances are small that I will ever be playing on NBA level or maybe I will. Who knows? I am a believer of the POWER OF WILL, that’s how I won my championships. I believed I could and I did!
“But listen to this, I don’t have to be a NBA champion again to make a difference in the life of my kids, people around me or even in yours. Maybe I can show you that you can become a champion in defeating your addiction or help others defeating theirs. Those are the real champions of this world.”
A serious health scare
In October 2015, Odom was found unconscious in a brothel in the Nevada desert and was hospitalized. There were questions whether he would survive.
In an interview with Arash Markazi of the Los Angeles Times, Odom said he suffered 12 strokes and six heart attacks while in a coma.
“My doctors say I’m a walking miracle; they’re amazed that I’m here,” Odom said to the paper. “I always knew I had a strong will. I think my will is even stronger than I believed it was. It’s a testament that God is good. When I woke up and I couldn’t talk or walk I never thought I would be here. I never thought I would play basketball again or talk to you. Just to be here is a win for me.”
Odom’s interview with the Los Angeles Times took place in Las Vegas — where the BIG3 held its annual draft on Wednesday.
“It’s crazy because I have so much history with Vegas,” Odom said to Markazi. “I almost went to school here. I almost died here. It’s crazy that this is happening for me now here. A lot of life-changing situations happened for me in Vegas. Hopefully this will prepare me to go play one season overseas. That’s what I really want to do, and then I’ll hang it up over there. I want one more run.”
This year, the BIG3 will visit 18 cities — up from 10 each of the two previous years. Three games will be played at each location, two days per weekend, for a total of six games.