Former NBA Sixth Man of the Year and Olympian Lamar Odom was found unresponsive at a Nevada brothel on Tuesday afternoon. The Love Ranch in Crystal, Nevada is a legal brothel located roughly 70 miles outside of Las Vegas. The owner, Dennis Hof, says that Odom “just wanted to get away, have a good time and relax.” However, when he was found by two women on Tuesday afternoon, he was face down and unconscious. At the direction of a 911 operator, the two women turned him on his side and he started “throwing up all kinds of stuff.”
While Odom’s history of alcohol and drug related problems has led many to assume similar substances were responsible for his current situation, Hof said that he was not aware of it if that was the case. When medical help arrived, they stabilized the former champion and took him to nearby Desert View Hospital. Officials then attempted to transport him via helicopter to Las Vegas but the 6-foot-10 Odom was too tall. Instead, he was rushed to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center by ambulance. The Nye County Sheriff’s Department is planning to hold a press conference at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday to give an update on Odom’s condition and, as a source told ESPN, “the next 48 hours are critical.”
The best years of Odom’s career came with the Lakers in 2009 and 2010 when he helped them win back-to-back championships. However, when the team attempted to trade him as part of a Chris Paul deal with New Orleans, only to have Commissioner David Stern veto the trade, Odom began a downward spiral that saw him play one ineffectual season with Dallas before bouncing around the league for another couple of years.
Odom has been out of the NBA since 2013 but the awareness gained from his marriage to Khloe Kardashian has kept him in the public eye. They were married in a large ceremony that aired on E! Network and have been a part of two reality TV shows since getting together. However, the couple filed for divorce in 2013, though the separation has yet to be finalized.
Since the news broke, several of Odom’s former teammates have reached out via social media and other platforms to offer their prayers and support. The general sense seems to be that they hope first and foremost that he gets well but also that this situation can provide the necessary motivation to get his life turned around. By most accounts, he is a generally affable person even if he can also be a bit aloof and withdrawn at times. I encourage each of us to join those offering him their prayers and well-wishes not only for his present illness but also for the larger factors that led to it. Some people just have to hit rock bottom before they can begin to turn their lives around. Hopefully that happens for Odom, but what a shame that it has to be that way.
That said, it would be easy for me to ask why it might take something as drastic as a near-death experience for Odom to reform his life but much harder for me to ask the same question of myself. However, it’s no less relevant for me than it is for him. While I have never been found unconscious in a brothel or faced a life-and-death situation of my own making, it often takes far longer than it should for me to address the sin in my life and seek genuine reform. And I think that’s true for most of us.
Part of the reason is that we tend to look for ways to get back on the right path without completely giving up the thing that has taken us away from the Lord. But C. S. Lewis is right when he says “Progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road…the man who turns back the soonest is the most progressive man.”
Moreover, biblical repentance means more than just trying to adjust one aspect of your life or stop committing one particular sin. When Jesus and John the Baptist told people to “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” they were calling for a whole life change. It’s not possible to repent in just one area of your life. Rather, what they had in mind was a complete shift in priorities and way of life so that the whole of whom we are is dedicated to God.
It’s all well and good to want to turn one aspect of our lives around, but the truth of God’s word is that such transformation necessitates more than just giving that one aspect to the Lord. Without that, you may find freedom from a particular sin but it is probably just going to be replaced by something else.
Dealing with the symptoms of our sin rather than the cause will never be sufficient to live as God intends. That is an important truth that Lamar Odom will need to understand if he wants to turn his life around but it’s just as important for each of us as well. Ultimately, we can’t get back to God by just continuing to walk away from him in a different direction. So where do you need to turn around today?