Lamar Odom, an athlete and celebrity in his own right, was catapulted into a media circus when he married Khloe Kardashian in 2009. Since that fateful walk down the aisle, his drug abuse habits have been sensationally reported on by thousands of popular news outlets.
Google Lamar Odom. It becomes immediately obvious that his entire web history is tied to two things: crack and Khloe Kardashian. Odom fueled this reputation when he was rushed to the hospital after consuming as many as 10 sexual-performance supplement pills and cocaine, while partying in Las Vegas this week.
The public seized the opportunity to add more articles, tweets, Facebook statuses, and Instagrams, fueling Odom’s infamous internet persona. Days after the event, while Odom fights for his life, Twitter is filled with individuals spewing vile comments about addicts and the Kardashians. While mental health activists, and Odom’s supporters alike, vehemently fight back, defending the former basketball player. But, where were we before Odom was hospitalized? Where was the defensiveness and the outrage then?
It was hiding behind the paparazzi camera that profiled all of his actions. Behind the computer uploading yet another piece that would attempt to exploit the athlete in exchange for likes, follows, and shares. The public loved Odom when he was winning on the court and they shamed him until the moment he arrived at the hospital. Now, many of those same people rush to his defense.
Is this guilt? Perhaps.
But Lamar didn’t get here on his own; the public failed him when he needed us most. He has become another casualty of media sensationalism and likely will not be the last. We must recognize that addicts are not stories; they are people. People who are not things to be profiled and sold for parts at the expense of their health and their dignity.
We have so much to learn from the public’s perception of Lamar Odom as a person, an athlete, and an addict.