With the humiliating cocaine coma in a Vegas whorehouse looming over Lamar Odom’s life and career, the question arises as to what is the attracting power of athletes to the underworld of drug and alcohol addiction. Source Culture Editor Sha Be Allah tackled this crisis in our Year In Review issue on newsstand now.
Dip Set General Cam’Ron was definitely onto something with the title of his celebrated debut LP Sports, Drugs & Entertainment. The allure of out of reach beauties from the imaginary world of television land and multimillionaire sports prospects mixed with illegal narcotics is secretly embedded in the American psyche as some sort of twisted aspiration. Those who have actually experienced “the life” have seen its highs and lows, yet none have been hit as hard and as often as the world of professional sports. The recent near death experience of Los Angeles Lakers star Lamar Odom in a Nevada brothel due to the use of almost every illegal narcotic available in America with the support of his fans as well as his almost famous wife Khloe Kardashian is just proof of the America’s addiction to sports, drugs and entertainment. Many fans and critics alike wonder what would make these public personalities in optimum physical shape risk their careers and lives chasing an addiction that is guaranteed to lead them in the poor house, then eventually the grave.
Ever since professional athletes were making just as much, and in some cases, even more money than other forms of conventional entertainment, drugs and alcohol became one of the most important stumbling blocks to dodge for someone that gets paid to play. Back in the “Roaring 20s”, it was well known that New York Yankees Hall Of Famer Babe Ruth was a functioning alcoholic. Boxing champion Sonny Liston‘s entire career swirled around the underworld; from his known association with the Mafia to his six month prison stint for taking a cop’s gun, it was easy to convince the public of the validity of his mysterious heroin overdose death in his Las Vegas home. 80s NBA All Star Michael “Sugar” Ray Richardson had a documentary made about his illegal substance addiction in the 2000 shock doc What Happened To Michael Ray? narrated by comedian Chris Rock despite playing on an Eastern Conference All Star team that locked out a rookie Michael Jordan. The Haley’s Comet-esque 1986 World Series New York Mets‘ All Star squad was overcome by cocaine addiction and have been dubbed “the original Coke Boys”, with many critics whispering that their World Champion win was attributed to the white lines. Just recently, the Yankees’ CC Sabathia checked himself into an alcohol rehab at the same time the Bronx Bombers were going into a wild card game against the Houston Astros.
Almost 30 years ago, a 22 year old basketball prospect by the name of Len Bias from the University of Maryland was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft chosen by the Boston Celtics. The two time Atlantic Coast Conference collegiate player of the year winner never had the opportunity to wear his #30 Celtics jersey, after Bias died of cardiac arrest from cocaine use just two days after being drafted. Odom, a South Jamaica, Queens native who’s a paternal descendant of a heroin addict, has to be very familiar with Bias’ tragic story. With a career riddled with suspensions for drug use, the LA Laker better take a microscopic look at his sports and family predecessors then look in the mirror and ask himself if dying in a whorehouse is the way he wants the world to remember him.
-Sha Be Allah(@KingPenStatus)