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Monday, January 16, 2012
Lamar Odom returns to L.A. on road to recovery

By Jeff Caplan



DALLAS -- Lamar Odom isn't courting sympathy. He's not seeking pity, or for anyone even to care.

If he's asking for anything at all during arguably his most uninspired stretch of basketball as a professional -- three weeks that have not only coincided with, but are manifested in yet another tragic chapter in his 32 years -- it is simply patience.

As the streaking Dallas Mavericks and the struggling Odom return to Los Angeles Monday night to face Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, the group that ungracefully exited last season's playoffs via a second-round sweep by the reigning champion Mavs, Odom has at least maintained some measure of a sense of humor as he drags a tattered spirit alongside the worst statistics of his 13-year career.

"Yeah, no," Odom answered softly when asked Friday night if he's allowed himself to imagine what it will be like to return to Staples Center. "I'm at the point where, it's funny, I've got to focus on the next play -- you know what I'm saying? -- to try to put a good game together. So, I mean, yeah, but no; yeah, but no. It's going to be weird. It's going to be weird."

Odom doesn't deny that leaving L.A. cut deeply, but yet not in the way so many apparently believe. The deepest wounds occurred months earlier. To put in perspective the debilitating effects of two deaths in the span of two days in July, understand that Odom, by all accounts a highly sensitive and emotionally driven individual, lost his mother to colon cancer at age 12. His grandmother, who reared him, died in 2004.

His second son, Jayden, just six months old, died in his crib of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome in 2006.

In July, Odom's 24-year-old cousin, a person Odom described as "one of my favorite people in the world," had been shot and lay in a New York hospital bed on life support. Odom was scheduled to travel to New York, where he was born and raised, to shoot a Nike commercial. He flew to New York be by his cousin's side.

"I went to see my cousin and tell his mother that they had to let him go, that they had to pull the plug on him," said Odom, who unsuspectingly was about to be rocked by yet another horrific situation.

Two days later, Odom sat in the back of a chauffeur-driven SUV on his way to get a haircut when he heard the unforgettable noise.

"This guy was riding a motorcycle, he started to skid, he hits us," Odom said. "He slides into a pedestrian right on the street and kills him right there."

The pedestrian, a 15-year-old boy, was rushed to a hospital and soon after was pronounced dead.

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