LAS VEGAS (AP) — Lamar Odom, the NBA star and reality TV personality embraced by teammates and fans for his humble approach to fame, was on life support Wednesday, his estranged wife Khloe Kardashian by his side. Odom was found unresponsive after four days in a brothel, and authorities sought a warrant for blood evidence of drugs.
Hospital officials would not comment on the condition of the 35-year-old former Los Angeles Laker, who was found face down at Nevada’s Love Ranch Tuesday afternoon, brothel owner Dennis Hof said.
Odom started “throwing up all kinds of stuff” after a 911 operator told brothel workers to turn him on his side, Hof told The Associated Press in a phone interview. Odom “spent time socializing with some of my girls,” but wasn’t seen taking any illegal drugs, Hof said.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who visited him in the hospital Wednesday, said Odom was on life support and that doctors believe he is recovering after being totally unresponsive the day before.
“Apparently from what the doctor said, he was much better off today than yesterday. He at least has some responsiveness now,” Jackson said. “He’s got tubes in him now but we felt inspired by his presence.”
“We’re just holding hands and hoping he can bounce back,” Jackson added.
Investigators have sought a warrant to obtain a blood sample to determine if Odom suffered a drug or alcohol overdose, Nye County, Nevada, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said.
Odom spent most of his 14-year NBA career in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Clippers, becoming a fan favorite and beloved teammate. Then he took fame even farther, marrying into the Kardashian clan.
His whirlwind romance with Khloe Kardashian and their huge 2009 wedding was taped for the E! network, and Odom appeared on nearly two dozen episodes of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” He also appeared on “Kourtney & Kim Take Miami,” and his marriage was chronicled on the “Khloe & Lamar” show in 2011 and 2012.
Odom seemed to get loving attention from the Kardashians. Khloe would call him “Lam-Lam” and worry openly about him. Even after they split up in 2013, cameras recorded her calling him and checking on his welfare, worried that he was in a bad place.
Authorities were called to the ranch in Crystal, Nevada, about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday, the sheriff said. At 6-feet-10-inches, Odom was too tall for an available helicopter, so an ambulance took him about 65 miles to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center in Las Vegas.
On Wednesday, Kardashian and some of Odom’s childhood friends were by his side, and former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant visited him last night, Jackson said.
Hof told the AP that his staff had picked up Odom from a home in Las Vegas on Saturday, and he seemed “happy, he was sleeping every night,” while visiting.
“He was polite and reserved, and he told multiple employees that he was there to get some privacy and spend some time relaxing,” he said in a statement.
“He largely kept to himself, and at no time did he engage in any drug use in the presence of anyone in the house. He did drink alcohol from our bar, and was taking some herbal sexual enhancement capsules,” Hof’s statement said.
Odom emerged as one of the most promising basketball talents of his generation after a difficult childhood in Queens, where his mother died of cancer when he was 12 and his estranged father was addicted to heroin. He eventually won two NBA championship rings and an Olympic medal, but suffered tragedies, too, including the death of his infant son in 2006.
People have always seemed to root for Odom, whose prematurely weathered face wore the impact of his personal tragedies in a friendly way, seeming to acknowledge his lowest points even when he reached the heights of pop-culture fame.
The neighborhood he grew up in, South Jamaica in Queens, was rampant with drugs and street crime, and he never forgot where he came from, writing tributes to his mother and grandmother on his sneakers before games.
The rangy kid with a beautiful shot and exceptional ball-handling skills drew comparisons to Magic Johnson when he played on a traveling youth team alongside Ron Artest, his future Lakers teammate. Hotly recruited from high school, he spent a year at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where NCAA investigations kept him from playing, and then spent a year at the University of Rhode Island, winning the conference title.
Tall enough to play center and skilled enough to be a playmaking guard, Odom’s talent was so coveted that he was picked fourth in the 1999 NBA draft by the moribund Clippers. Suddenly, he was “living like a 19-year-old rock star,” he said. Soon thereafter, he was suspended for smoking marijuana.
Odom had two children during those years, Destiny and Lamar Jr., with an ex-girlfriend, Liza Morales. They had another infant son, Jayden, whose crib death in 2006 was attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Odom loved wearing the Lakers’ purple and gold. His selfless play won him the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. They won a second NBA final as he played alongside Artest, now known as Metta World Peace. Loving fans followed him from his downtown Los Angeles loft to the arena before playoff games. His obsessive consumption of candy endeared him even more.
But as his life became a public spectacle, his basketball career faded. He was heartbroken in December 2011 when the Lakers attempted to trade him to New Orleans in a multiplayer trade for Chris Paul. He eventually went to Dallas, and was out of the NBA just two years later.
Odom’s behavior increasingly worried family and friends. He pleaded no contest to drunk-driving after an arrest in August 2013. Kardashian filed for divorce four months later and has been dating Houston Rockets star James Harden. The divorce has not yet received final approval from a judge.
Odom signed with the New York Knicks in April 2014, but never played. Rumors of drug use followed; Odom was photographed repeatedly on Skid Row.
When cameras caught up with him on a sidewalk in August, Odom blamed the media for his downfall.
“Ya’ll have discredited me, beat me down, took my confidence, took everything away from me. You will not do it again,” Odom told TMZ in an interview. “To everybody that I know and that supports me, I’m sorry but it’s just it. The dog has to bite back.”
Several Lakers players visited the hospital after their exhibition game Tuesday night in Las Vegas.
“There’s not one word I could say that would make sense,” World Peace said, clearly distraught.
Contributors include Andrew Dalton and Beth Harris in Los Angeles and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas.
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