Odom played on the United States national team, winning a bronze medal in the Olympics in 2004 and gold in the FIBA World Championship (known later as the World Cup) in 2010.
He married Khloé Kardashian in 2009, and has made several appearances on her family's reality television show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians. He and Kardashian also had their own reality series, Khloé & Lamar.
Odom was born in South Jamaica, Queens, New York City, to Joe Odom and Cathy Mercer. His father was a heroin addict, and Odom's mother died of colon cancer when he was twelve years old. At her deathbed, Odom's mom told him: "Be nice to everybody". Afterwards, he was raised by his maternal grandmother, Mildred Mercer.
In his first three years of high school, Odom played for Christ The King Regional High School in Middle Village, Queens. He left the school at the start of his senior year due to poor grades, transferring first to Redemption Christian Academy in Troy, New York and then to the now-defunct St. Thomas Aquinas High School in New Britain, Connecticut, where he was coached by Jerry DeGregorio. As a senior, Odom was recognized nationally as the Parade Player of the Year in 1997. He also was named to the Parade All-American First Team for the second consecutive year, and earned USA Today All-USA 1st Team honors. During his youth, Odom was teamed with future NBA players Elton Brand and Ron Artest (later known as Metta World Peace) (and both of whom would be teammates with Odom on both the Clippers and Lakers respectively) on the same AAU team, and played with future Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant at Adidas ABCD camps. Adidas executive Sonny Vaccaro commented at the time that Odom possessed a "$2 million smile".
Odom contemplated entering the NBA directly out of high school, and consulted with Bryant, who had made the jump a year earlier. He decided he was not ready, and decided to attend the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. However, after a Sports Illustrated report questioned his unexpectedly high score of 22 out of 36 in the ACT, the school released him in July 1997 before he ever played a game for them. That same summer, he received a citation for soliciting prostitution following an undercover operation by the Las Vegas police. Later, an NCAA inquiry found Odom received payments amounting to $5,600 from booster David Chapman. Coach Bill Bayno was fired and UNLV was placed on probation for four years.
Odom transferred to the University of Rhode Island but was forced to sit out the 1997–98 season. He was admitted as a non-matriculating student, and was not allowed to play intramural basketball. His room and board was paid for by his father, who was covered by the G.I. Bill. After two semesters and a summer session, Odom earned his eligibility to play basketball. His career at Rhode Island had been in jeopardy after the first semester, when he vanished before finals. However, Rhode Island coach Jim Harrick persuaded three of his four instructors to allow him to make up his work. The coach also had Odom work with DeGregorio, who had become a Rams assistant and was the player's closest friend in college. Odom was also inspired by his maternal grandmother, a nurse who had raised five children and returned to school to earn her degree in 1980 at age 56.
Odom played one season for the Rams in the Atlantic 10 Conference, where he averaged 17.6 points per game and led the Rams to the conference championship in 1999. He earned first-team all-conference honors and was named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. He was named the most valuable player of the Atlantic 10 Tournament after his three-pointer against Temple University at the buzzer gave the Rams their first A-10 Tournament title.
Odom declared his eligibility for the 1999 NBA draft after his freshman year at the Rhode Island in 1999. He then tried to return to college, thinking he was not ready for the NBA; however, had already signed with an agent and was no longer eligible to withdraw from the draft. Odom was selected by the Los Angeles Clippers with the fourth overall pick. In his first season with the Clippers, Odom averaged 16.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game, including 30 points and 12 rebounds in his NBA debut. He was named to the 2000 NBA All-Rookie First Team.
In the 2000–01 season, Odom increased his scoring average to 17.2 points a game as he started in 74 games. The Clippers failed to make the playoffs again however, as the young team could not improve their positioning in the Western Conference. In March 2001, Odom was suspended for five games for violating the NBA's drug policy. In the following season, he was suspended in November for violating the drug policy again, his second offense in eight months. He admitted to using marijuana after the suspension. Odom only played 29 games during the season, and his production slipped.
He would only play in 49 games during the 2002–03 season, and would be a restricted free agent the following summer. The Miami Heat offered a deal that the Clippers declined to match after already matching another offer the Heat made to Elton Brand.
The Heat had previously won only 25 games, but had drafted young talent such as Dwyane Wade and Caron Butler. Odom was brought in to play as the team's starting power forward, and along with the budding Wade and veteran Eddie Jones shared the scoring load with 17.1 points a game to go with a career high 9.7 rebounds. The Heat opened the season losing 7 straight games, but ended up playing better and competing for a seed in the playoffs. On March 6, Odom posted a triple double, scoring 30 points with 19 rebounds and 11 assists in a home win against the Sacramento Kings. The Heat would go on to the clinch the 4th seed in the playoffs, facing off the New Orleans Hornets in the first round. Each team won at home, and the Heat would win a 7th deciding game to advance to the second round to face the number one seeded Indiana Pacers. The Pacers would win the first two games in Indiana, but the Heat responded with two straight home wins, including a game 4 victory led by Odom's 22 points. The Pacers' experience proved to be too much for the younger Heat, as they would go to win games 5 and 6 to wrap up the series. He had a solid season compared to his sub-par season with the Clippers the previous year.
After the season, Odom was traded in a package with Caron Butler and Brian Grant to the Los Angeles Lakers for All-Star Shaquille O'Neal.
In his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers, Odom incurred a left shoulder injury which forced him to miss the end of the 2004–05 season. Despite Odom averaging 15.2 points and a career high 10.2 rebounds, the Lakers finished out of the playoffs for only the 5th time in franchise history. Following the 2004–05 season, they re-hired former coach Phil Jackson.
In the first half of 2005–06, Odom displayed inconsistency while playing with the Lakers. However, as Los Angeles progressed towards the end of the season, his performance steadily improved. Along the way, he posted consecutive triple-doubles for the first time as a Laker against the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. The Lakers were eliminated in 7 games in the first round of the playoffs against the Phoenix Suns, after the Lakers lost a 3–1 series lead. Odom averaged 14.8 points and 9.2 rebounds during the season and increased his scoring (19.1) and rebounds (11) in seven playoff games.
Battling injuries, Odom was limited to 56 games in 2006–07, but finished with an average of 15.9 points and 9.8 rebounds per game. In a rematch of the previous year's series, the Lakers were again defeated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the 2007 NBA Playoffs.
After young center Andrew Bynum went down with a knee injury during the 2007–08 season, and Pau Gasol was acquired by the Lakers midseason, Odom played well, averaging 15.3 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists per game. Odom finished the season with 14.2 ppg 10.6 rpg and 3.5 apg. Odom's numbers were down in the Finals, however, where he averaged 13.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game, with the Lakers losing in the 2008 NBA Finals to the Boston Celtics.
In 2008–09, Odom arrived at training camp out of shape. Jackson shared his plan to move Odom to the bench as their sixth man, backing up the Lakers' frontcourt of Gasol, Bynum, and Trevor Ariza. A free agent after the season, Odom initially balked at the plan to be a reserve for the first time in his career. However, he came around, and was resolved to make his teammates happy and sacrifice his own individual numbers in the hopes of securing his first NBA championship. When Bynum was injured in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies in January, Odom returned to the starting lineup. In the month of February, Odom, playing 36 minutes per game, averaged 16.5 points, 13.4 rebounds (4.9 offensive and 9.5 defensive), 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, and .9 steals. The February run included a good performance at Quicken Loans Arena at Cleveland. With 15 points in the 3rd quarter, Odom helped the Lakers out of a 12-point deficit to turn it into a 10-point victory, breaking Cleveland's 23 game home win-streak. He finished the game with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 2 assists.
Odom adjusted back to his sixth man role when Bynum returned for an April 9 home matchup versus the Denver Nuggets. Odom finished his season with 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.7 blocks with 29.7 minutes per game. He won his first NBA championship when the Lakers defeated the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Finals.
During the 2009 off-season, Odom was courted heavily by the his former team, Miami. Despite pleas from Heat guard Dwyane Wade, and Heat Executive Pat Riley, Kobe Bryant remained optimistic Odom would return to Los Angeles to team up with newly acquired forward and Odom's fellow New Yorker, Ron Artest. After a month of tedious negotiations, on July 31, 2009 the Lakers announced that they had agreed to a four-year deal worth up to $33 million with Odom. The investment would pay off as Odom would play a crucial role for the Lakers on the way to another NBA Championship, with the Lakers winning over the Boston Celtics in the 2010 NBA Finals.
Odom continued his strong play for the Lakers with another solid season in the 2010–11 season where he posted career highs in 3 point shooting percentage (.382) and overall field goal percentage (.530). He started 35 games in Bynum's absence during the season and averaged 16.3 points and 10.2 rebounds in those starts. In 47 games off the bench, Odom averaged 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds in 28.4 minutes. Meeting the requirement to come in as a reserve more games than he started, Odom was awarded the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, becoming the first player in Lakers history to do so. Bryant called it Odom's most "consistent season". During the offseason, Odom considered taking a break from basketball after a close cousin was murdered and Odom was a passenger in a SUV involved in an accident that killed a teenage cyclist. The car accident had occurred the day after Odom attended his cousin's funeral.
On December 11, 2011, Odom was traded to the Dallas Mavericks, the defending NBA champions, for a first-round draft pick and an $8.9 million trade exception after NBA commissioner David Stern vetoed a proposed three-team trade that would have sent Odom and Houston Rockets teammates Kevin Martin, Luis Scola, and Goran Dragić to the New Orleans Hornets; Chris Paul to the Lakers; and Pau Gasol to the Houston Rockets. Odom felt "disrespected" after he learned of the Hornets trade publicly, and he requested a trade from the Lakers to another contending team. The Lakers were also concerned that Odom's contract was pricey since he was not needed to initiate the triangle offense with Mike Brown replacing Phil Jackson as Lakers coach. The deal was confirmed by the Mavericks on December 11.
On March 2, 2012, Odom was assigned to the Texas Legends of the NBA D-League. He had missed the prior three games due to personal reasons. His stint with the Legends was canceled on March 3, 2012 and he returned to the Mavs' active roster. On March 24, Odom did not play in a 104–87 loss to the San Antonio Spurs, the first time he could remember not playing due to a coach's decision.
On April 9, 2012, it was announced that Odom had parted ways with the Mavericks. Instead of releasing him, the team listed Odom inactive for the remainder of the season. The move allowed the Mavericks to trade him at the end of the season. In a statement to ESPN, Odom said, "I'm sorry that things didn't work out better for both of us, but I wish the Mavs' organization, my teammates and Dallas fans nothing but continued success in the defense of their championship." Mavericks owner Mark Cuban admitted that a clash between the two during halftime in a game against the Memphis Grizzlies on April 7 was the last straw. Odom reportedly responded angrily when Cuban questioned his commitment, asking if he was "in or out." Odom averaged only 6.6 points in 20.5 minutes along with career lows in shooting percentage (35.2), rebounds (4.2) and assists (1.7) .
On June 29, 2012, Odom was traded back to the Los Angeles Clippers as part of a four-team deal. The deal sent Odom to the Clippers, the rights to Tadija Dragićević and cash considerations to the Dallas Mavericks, Mo Williams and the draft rights to Shan Foster to the Utah Jazz, and the draft rights to Furkan Aldemir to the Houston Rockets. He played all 82 games of the season for the third time in his career, but only started two of them. Out of shape for half the season, he averaged career lows of 4.0 ppg and 1.7 apg in 19.7 mpg during the season. He also averaged 5.9 rebounds, but shot just 39.9 percent. The Clippers finished 56-26 and won their first ever Pacific Division title.
In July 2013, Odom became a free agent but did not land an NBA contract despite some interest from the Clippers in his return. The Lakers also contemplated re-signing him, but both teams committed to other players instead.
On February 18, 2014, Odom signed with Laboral Kutxa Baskonia of the Spanish League and the Euroleague on a two-month deal with an option to extend it for the remainder of the season. A month later, he returned to the United States due to a back injury after his personal doctors in New York ruled him unfit to play out his contract. He appeared in just two games for Baskonia.
On April 16, 2014, Odom signed with the New York Knicks for the remainder of the 2013–14 season, but did not appear in the team's season finale. The Knicks finished with a 37–45 win/loss record and missed the playoffs. On July 11, 2014, he was waived by the Knicks.
Odom played in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens for the US national team, averaging 9.3 ppg while helping the U.S. to a bronze medal. He was invited to play for the FIBA World Championships for 2006 but declined the invitation because of the tragic death of his son and in 2007 because of a shoulder injury.
Odom would, however, be invited back for the national team's run at the 2010 FIBA World Championship in Istanbul, Turkey where the U.S. would win gold for the first time since 1994. Odom, being one of the elder statesmen on a young U.S. squad, served as a mentor for many of the younger players and even played out of position at center for the tournament. He led the U.S. in rebounds and finished the FIBA championships with double-doubles in the semi-final and championship games while becoming the first player in history to win both an NBA championship and FIBA gold in the same year.
Odom was renowned for the impact his positive personality had on his teams. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak called him "the most popular player in our locker room". Odom valued the concept of a team and played unselfishly, and was content deferring to teammates while playing a supporting role. Standing at 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m), he was still adept at dribbling the ball and directing the offense, and could also rebound proficiently as a small forward. He was able to score as a post player, on mid-range jumpers, as well as from outside. He could start a fast break with an outlook pass, finish it with a layup, or simply drive from coast to coast for a dunk. Though he was a reserve on the Lakers championship teams, he typically finished games in place of starter Andrew Bynum.
Odom was cooperative with the media, and provided both thoughtful and open responses.
Odom has his own music and film production company, Rich Soil Entertainment. He appeared in a Taco Bell commercial with Charles Barkley during Super Bowl XLIV. Additionally, Odom made a cameo on the second season of the HBO television series Entourage.
Odom is noted for his fondness for candy. Wrigley made a replica of the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy out of candy in celebration of the Lakers' victory in the 2009 Finals, and Odom's name is featured on the base.
Odom had three children, Destiny (b. 1998), Lamar Jr. (b. 2002) and Jayden (2005–2006), with Liza Morales before they separated. On June 29, 2006, 6½-month-old Jayden died from sudden infant death syndrome while sleeping in his crib in New York. At the time, Odom was already in town for the funeral of an aunt. Odom developed a relationship with his father, who became drug-free, but he remains closer to DeGregorio, whom he calls [his] "white dad". DeGregorio is the godfather to Destiny and Lamar Jr.
In September 2009, Odom married Khloé Kardashian after a month of dating. He had met her at a party for Lakers teammate Artest. Their wedding was featured on the E! reality-based series Keeping Up with the Kardashians, in which she stars. Odom became a fixture on the show and a household name to millions who were not already familiar with him as a basketball player.
In December 2010, E! announced another spinoff from the series featuring Odom, Kardashian, and his two children from his previous relationship. The series, titled Khloé & Lamar, debuted on April 10, 2011. Soon thereafter, Odom almost opted out of the show as the filming wore him down. The series was canceled in 2012 after two seasons.
On August 30, 2013, Odom was arrested on charges of driving under the influence (DUI). After the arrest, he refused to submit to a chemical test. Almost a week earlier, gossip websites had alleged that Odom had been abusing drugs, which prompted worried tweets from former teammates and coaches. On December 9, Odom pleaded no contest to the DUI charges and accepted a sentence of three years' probation and three months of alcohol abuse treatment. On December 13, after months of speculated separation, Kardashian filed for divorce from Odom and for legal restoration of her last name. Divorce papers were signed by both parties in July 2015; however, the divorce did not receive final approval from a judge before being dismissed by request in October 2015.
On October 13, 2015, Odom was hospitalized after being discovered unconscious at the Love Ranch, a brothel in Crystal, Nevada. He was in a coma and placed on life support in a hospital in Las Vegas for a few days before regaining consciousness. He had suffered several strokes and kidney failure. He was transferred from Las Vegas to a Los Angeles hospital by medical transport. In the aftermath of the incident, Kardashian withdrew her request for a divorce. She said they had not reconciled but she had withdrawn the divorce so that she might assist him in making medical decisions during his recovery.
Odom's recovery has gone well. On January 8, 2016, Odom's paternal aunt JaNean Mercer told Us Weekly that "the former NBA star is on the road to recovery after finally leaving the hospital earlier in the week." She said "Lamar continues to make remarkable strides." In early 2016, Khloé Kardashian said "I'm just there to support and care for him. But he is doing amazing." However, on May 26, 2016, Kardashian filed for divorce again. Odom told HollywoodLife that before the divorce of the couple is finalized, he hopes to get Khloe Kardashian back and that he was okay with her filing for divorce.
In 2015, he was #1 on the Google Trends list for living people, which measures the highest spikes in traffic over a sustained period compared to the previous year.