Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We Forget That Athletes Are Human, The Lamar Odom Story

Say what you want about Lamar Odom, and go ahead and criticize his lifestyle and the choices he's made, but I will never hesitate to stand up for those human beings who suffer from addiction and mental illness.

Given that Odom's story as well as his whereabouts are uncertain and up-in-the-air at this time, the biggest issue at stake here is so much more than money, a reality TV drama, or a basketball hoop. His future livelihood as a healthy, spirited human being is under attack and in immediate jeopardy.

The fact of the matter is that he needs help, not disapproval and abandonment.

Sounding off about "overpaid athletes" and their personal problems isn't justified right now, condemning his career choices isn't important in this arena, and frankly, examining his NBA career through a diluted microscope focused solely on his off-court struggles is the last thing he needs.

Again, Lamar needs help.

I think just about everyone has been affected by addiction of some sort, be it yourself or someone you know. Some people love video games and Warcraft, while others can't get out of bed without a shot of tequila. Others crave drugs, pills, cigarettes, food, porn, the list goes on and on and on. The bottom line is that regardless of how extreme the situation is, it's all addiction no matter how damaging or self-destructive the behavior is.

Unfortunately, I've watched capable, intelligent people stumble, trip, and painfully force themselves down a drug-infused path of isolation and inner turmoil that I would wish upon no one. But I've also looked into the faces of these men, and seen humanity. I could see sorrow, bitterness, anger, pain, and sometimes, I even saw glimmers of hope. And where there's hope, there's motivation.

They were still alive, they hadn't given up, and they were still there.

Sadly, I saw other things too.

I tried to ignore it, but I also noticed signs of disorientation, deterioration, exhaustion, and lifelessness; signs that the affliction haunted them to agonizing points of extreme anguish both mentally and physically. Their lives had been strangled by disease and they were struggling to breathe. They looked dejected and abandoned, almost as if they had left themselves behind in favor of the stranger that they had become.

Now, I'm definitely not an angel and I've certainly done some stupid, irresponsible stuff over the last 25 years but even at my worst self, I don't know what it feels like to be them and I don't know their pain. However, I still believe in them because I'm part of that crazy minority that hasn't given up on our species.

Obviously I have my doubtful moments, but I still believe that HUMAN BEINGS are worth helping and I still believe that people are capable of changing and making drastic differences in themselves, in their environment, and in their world.

It's very sad that LO suffered through the last few years without any help or legitimate resources, and its depressing that a guy who seemed to love life on the court, struggled to live outside of the gym.

For the record I've never thought of Lamar as an angel either, because he's human, made up of flesh and blood like you and me. We all make terrible mistakes, but true character is revealed by how you handle your faults and carry yourself amidst adversity.

I hope for the best for Lamar and look forward to his return to life, because basketball can wait.

And to the rest of you that are currently being affected by a harmful dependency, I pray for a swift end to your pain.

Thanks for tuning in,


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