by Jasmine Morales / @msjulyy

Last year we dubbed Lamar Odom a winner. This year, at No. 42, I would like to add another title to his list: Survivor.

One can compare the popular TV show Survivor to life. In the show, players don’t know the different obstacles they’re going to face. Similar to life, you never know what will be thrown your way.

One of the differences between the game and life is a guarantee that whoever wins the game will win a pize. In life, it takes a lot more than surviving a few obstacles to win. And even in life, there is no guarantee of  winning that big prize.

For Lamar Odom, life was not always peaches and cream. He grew up in Queens where the drug epidemic got a hold of his father and cancer overcame his mother. At the young age of 12, Lamar was placed in a position where he could either use the obstacles of life to push him to a better future or use his situation as a crutch as to why he never succeeded in life.

Queens was his island and in order to make it off his island he needed to overcome the obstacles being thrown his way. Like many young kids in his situation, basketball was a way out. In an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians, “Wedding Edition,” Lamar explained how basketball helped him cope with his mother’s death stating, “When my mother died, I went on the court and played basketball all day, I didn’t even go in the house to eat. Just played basketball.”

Everyone has their own “survivor” story but what stands out about Lamar Odom’s story is the never-ending will to succeed. As a person who has gone through similar situations, I admire his strength and courage to continue on. I often look at the obstacles he has faced, and think, If he can do it so can I.

Last season, Odom gave the Lakers another solid season, averaging 8.7 rebounds and 14.4 points while posting career highs in three-point percentage (.382) and field-goal percentage (.530). He was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year award, becoming the first Laker to win.

Twelve NBA seasons, two NBA Championships, one gold medal, an NBA Sixth Man award and a Kardashian later, it’s safe to say Lamar Odom has won his life’s version of Survivor.

SLAMonline Top 50 Players 2011
RankPlayerTeamPositionPos. Rank
50Luol DengBullsSF8
49Andrew BogutBucksC7
48Ray AllenCelticsSG9
47Marc GasolGrizzliesC6
46David WestHornetsPF15
45Kevin MartinRocketsSG8
44Andrew BynumLakersC5
43Brandon JenningsBucksPG11
42Lamar OdomLakersPF14

Notes
• Rankings are based solely on projected ’11-12 performance.
• Contributors to this list include: Maurice Bobb, Shannon Booher, David Cassilo, Bryan Crawford, Sandy Dover, Adam Figman, Jon Jaques, Eldon Khorshidi, Ryne Nelson, Doobie Okon, Ben Osborne, Quinn Peterson, Dave Schnur, Abe Schwadron, Dan Shapiro, Irv Soonachan, Todd Spehr, Tzvi Twersky, Yaron Weitzman, DeMarco Williams and Ben York.
• Want more of the SLAMonline Top 50? Check out the archive.