I was always a huge Lamar Odom fan even though he at no time ever played for my favorite team: the Indiana Pacers. I just had such a respect for his game because he was such a smooth player in such a large frame. He was really one of the modern innovators of the point forward position. I loved that he could guard four positions and was a stat sheet filler. In my mind, the type of player you build a team around.
This book made me both happy that Lamar could overcome some big obstacles, but also get frustrated with how much talent he didn't get to show from his own selfishness. I guess putting all of your skeletons out there along with your triumphs was the point of the book. Personally, my memories of Lamar are his early Clipper days and reaching the peak of the sport with the Lakers. I'm sure there are people out there that remember him more from the Kardashian show and his near death experience at a brothel in Nevada. This is unfortunate.
All in all, throughout this read I respect Lamar Odom for putting all of it out there. That took a lot of courage and I really hope he continues to be the best father and mentor he can be. His life experiences and skills would be super valuable to kids in vulnerable situations. My question is: If he wasn't fighting the partying and substance abuse his whole career would he be a Top 10-20 player of all-time? We'll never know, but his talent was undeniable.
What I Learned Reading "Darkness to Light":
1. Lamar struggled with A LOT of demons throughout his time. From an absentee father to a mother who was taken by cancer to addictions of his own. Everyone wanted a piece of his talent and the money and lifestyle that came with it.
2. I learned a lot about the greasy behind the scenes world of youth and college basketball. Specifically Lamar's time playing with Adidas teams in his youth, only to later spur Adidas for Nike. I knew about this culture from my time working in sports and other reads, but what made this different was it was more of one player's micro-view vs. the system as a whole.
3. The person I was most drawn to was Lamar's grandmother Mildred. She was part of the great migration north for work after being born to sharecroppers in Georgia. She must have seen real poverty as a child and wanted better for herself. She made it happen by moving to NYC and finding work to build a life for her and her children. In many ways I view her as this book's hero.
About the Author
Andy Rupert is a Penn State (B.A. John Curley Center for Sports Journalism 08') and a Southern Miss (M.S. Sport Management 09'). He has spent his whole career working in sports and tourism digital marketing and metrics.