NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson says Lamar Odom is on life support but that his doctors think he’s improving. Meanwhile, family and friends of the Queens native are praying for his recovery.
Jackson visited the former NBA star and reality TV personality at a Las Vegas hospital Wednesday morning. He says Odom was unresponsive Tuesday but “has some responsiveness now.”
“Apparently from what the doctor said, he was much better off today than yesterday,” Jackson said.
Jackson was in town for Tuesday’s Democratic presidential debate. He stopped and spoke to the media as he was leaving the hospital Wednesday.
He said Khloe Kardashian and some of Odom’s childhood friends were by Odom’s side, and former Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant visited him last night.
Odom was found facedown at the Love Ranch Tuesday afternoon, according to brothel owner Dennis Hof. He started “throwing up all kinds of stuff” when the 911 operator told them to turn him on his side, Hof said.
Nye County, Nevada, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly said investigators sought a warrant to obtain a blood sample to determine if Odom suffered a drug or alcohol overdose.
The sheriff said her department was told Lamar Odom had been using cocaine at bordello.
Hof said Odom arrived alone Saturday and “spent time socializing with some of my girls,” but wasn’t seen taking any illegal drugs.
“He was polite and reserved, and he told multiple employees that he was there to get some privacy and spend some time relaxing,” Hof’s statement said.
“He largely kept to himself, and at no time did he engage in any drug use in the presence of anyone in the house. He did drink alcohol from our bar, and was taking some herbal sexual enhancement capsules. At his request, he spent Monday evening alone in his suite,” the statement said.
“It’s incredibly sad,” Hof told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “He just wanted to get away, have a good time and relax.”
Hof, who owns several legal brothels in Nevada, told the AP that his staff had picked up Odom from a home in Las Vegas on Saturday, and he seemed “happy, he was sleeping every night,” while visiting.
Two women went to check on Odom Tuesday afternoon after not hearing from him since early morning, and found him face down and unconscious, he said.
Authorities were called to the ranch in Crystal, Nevada, about 3:15 p.m. Tuesday Crystal, Nevada, for a report of an unresponsive man needing an ambulance, the sheriff’s statement said.
Odom was stabilized and taken to Desert View Hospital in nearby Pahrump, where they tried to airlift him to Las Vegas. The the 6-foot-10-inch Odom was too tall for the available helicopter, so he was driven about 65 miles instead to Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center.
Odom’s hospitalization was first reported by TMZ.
At the home in South Jamaica, Queens where Odom grew up, his aunt JaNean said she’s flying out to see her nephew, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.
Meanwhile, childhood friends have been stopping by and said they are distraught by the news. One of those friends, Albert McDuffie, said he was “still in shock.”
“He’s a great friend of mine,” McDuffie said. “Everyone’s hoping for a great recovery, hoping he gets back 100 percent. A lot of people know his story. He’s a very strong person, everything he’s been through — he’s a very strong person.”
Odom emerged as one of the most promising basketball talents of his generation after a difficult childhood in Queens, where his mother died of cancer when he was 12 and his father was addicted to heroin.
He spent most of his 14-year NBA career in Los Angeles with the Lakers and Clippers, becoming a fan favorite and a beloved teammate of Bryant.
At the height of his basketball career, he took it even further, carrying on a whirlwind romance with Kardashian. Their huge 2009 wedding was taped for the E! network, and their marriage chronicled on the “Khloe & Lamar” show, where Odom he appeared to be a romantic partner, very much wanting more children that never came.
Two NBA championship rings and an Olympic medal couldn’t free Odom from his demons, however; his life never seemed free of struggle and tragedy, most tragically the death of his infant son in 2006.
After seven years with the Lakers, he felt crushed in December 2011 when the club traded him. He played his final NBA game 18 months later, and his last years were a spiral of arrest, estrangement and widespread rumors of drug use.
Kardashian filed for divorce in 2013, citing irreconcilable differences, his behavior became more erratic.
Odom spent the best years of his career with the Lakers, where his selfless play won him the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award. He thrived at the Lakers’ intersection of sports success and Hollywood fame, eagerly courting Kardashian and broadcasting their life together for two television seasons.
Odom had two children, Destiny and Lamar Jr., with an ex-girlfriend, Liza Morales. They had another infant son, Jayden, whose death was attributed to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
People always seemed to root for Odom, a fallible, Everyman personality whose prematurely weathered face wore the impact of his personal tragedies in a friendly way that seemed to acknowledge his lowest points even when he reached the heights of pop-culture fame in sports and reality TV.
His divorce from Kardashian has not yet received final approval from a judge.
The Lakers played an exhibition game in Las Vegas on Tuesday night, losing 107-100 to Sacramento. Bryant and Metta World Peace, another one of Odom’s childhood friends from Queens, are his only remaining teammates on the roster.
“There’s not one word I could say that would make sense,” World Peace said, clearly distraught, after the game. Bryant left without speaking to reporters.
Odom loved wearing the Lakers’ purple and gold and was heartbroken in December 2011 when the Lakers attempted to trade him to New Orleans in a multiplayer trade for Chris Paul. He eventually went to Dallas in another deal, but was out of the NBA just two years later.
Troubles that met Odom before and during his career seemed to worsen after that, including a no-contest plea to drunken driving shortly before he received divorce papers.
Odom was suspended during the 2000-01 season for violating the NBA’s anti-drug policy for the second time in eight months. During the 2010-11 season, a cousin he was close to died and Odom was a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident in New York that killed a cyclist.
Odom played one season at Rhode Island before being drafted in the first round with the No. 4 overall pick by the Clippers in the 1999 NBA draft.
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