Despite rampant speculation, close friends of NBA star Lamar Odom insist he isn’t missing—only a few close family members and friends know where he is. Many feared the worse for the husband of Khloe Kardashian after reports surfaced that the Los Angeles Clipper had been out of contact for nearly three days.
According to TMZ, the Kardashian family supposedly worried that Odom was on a crack-cocaine binge after news reports said he’d been struggling with a serious drug problem for the majority of his four-year marriage. TMZ also reported the NBA star was also asked to leave the home he shares with his wife after he rejected her efforts to put him in rehab.
“Lamar has had tough year, or longer really,’’ said one of his former Los Angeles Lakers teammates. “He wanted all the fame and fortune the Kardashian family could give him, but never considered the price he’d pay for it.’’
That price, says the friend, has come in the form of constant cameras and media attention pointed his way. The media’s never-ending obsession with the Kardashian clan quickly began to cause the NBA player tremendous emotional distress, according to those who know him well.
“Lamar was a second-level sports star, particularly on a team like the Lakers with Kobe Bryant,’’ said one former Lakers player. “Not sure he understood that, but he wasn’t in Us and People magazine every week. There was a limit in interest in him off the court. But the Kardashians have an all-consuming fame that Lamar was not prepared for at all. It really is that old saying of ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ He wished for fame, but this hadn’t been on his own terms.’’
Odom and Kardashian married only a month after meeting one another in 2009. The lavish wedding was televised on the E! network and received huge ratings partly because of guests like Odom’s then–Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant and coach Phil Jackson. Prior to Kardashian, the 33-year-old Queens native spent more than eight years with his high-school sweetheart and their two children. Odom and Kardashian supposedly enjoyed two years of marital bliss as the NBA player became a regular on the family’s reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians as well as with the release of their successful fragrance “Unbreakable Bond.’’
It wasn’t long before the couple also had their own short-lived reality show Khloe and Lamar. Many suggest this was the beginning of the marriage’s decline.
“Not sure why the Lakers agreed to let him do that show at all,’’ says a teammate. “It was a big distraction for him and the team. But he wanted that celebrity so bad that Phil Jackson and others just didn’t want to deny him.’’
The Lakers lost in the playoffs when the show debuted in 2010, and Odom was quickly traded to Dallas the next season. In Texas he struggled with being away from the bright lights of Los Angeles and from the superstar power the Lakers provided.
“A lot of people blamed all of the Lakers’ woes that year on that show, Lamar and the Kardashians’ being front row at every game,’’ said the teammate. “Lamar took that very hard and felt like being traded to Dallas was his punishment.”
“Again, all his private information is now public,’’ said the friend. “He wasn’t ready for that.’’
There’s more. In addition to the relentless media glare, allegations of drug use, and rumored romantic affairs, friends say Odom has recently fallen victim to a new set of insecurities in the wake of the new man in the Kardashian household: Kanye West.
When Odom first became a member of the Kardashian clan Kim Kardashian was dating football star Reggie Bush. Bush was a rather low-key guy with little interest in 24-hour publicity, so the two athletes got along well.
“Reggie and Lamar were pretty much on the same level famewise,’’ says an Odom friend. “So that was cool. But Kanye is a superstar, and all the Kardashian family treats him that way. Kanye carries himself that way too so you can’t be confused.’’
West’s international star power and overall dominant personality quickly overshadowed and downplayed Odom’s “second seat” persona, friends say.
“Kris Kardashian had total control over Lamar and his career really,’’ says a friend. “But no one is running Kanye, and Lamar kinda felt ‘less than’ when he came around. He’s the man now, and Lamar is the one with all the problems. It’s not a good place for him to be now.’’
Some wonder if he’s ready to face what could be next: a costly divorce. The couple reportedly signed a pre-nup, but one clause could reportedly give her more of his $56 million fortune if infidelity on his part can be proven.
“It’s really sad because this is kind of what Lamar asked for,’’ said a former player. “He just didn’t know what he was really getting.”