But now he's sharing his version of events, to anyone who will listen.
Odom is candid about his struggle with drugs and alcohol in his new memoir, "Darkness to Light," and recently spoke to CNN about his path forward.
As an NBA star player with two championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and a once happy marriage to Khloé Kardashian, Odom at one point seemed to have it all.
But he nearly died in October 2015, when he was found unconscious at the Love Ranch brothel outside of Las Vegas.
"The strength in God, the strength in my family for never giving up on me, that's who I live for now," he said. "I lived selfishly for a long time. I'll be an addict for as long as I live. When you're sober, you're present. And when you're present, you kind of understand the consequences and repercussions of what you do, and therefore I have no will to do any drug that isn't marijuana. I understand the consequences and repercussions of getting high."
He added, "I'm trying to go forward and trying to move forward. If I do drugs, that's moving backyards. If I live moving backwards, that means I'm living to die." Odom reportedly suffered 12 strokes and six heart attacks while in a coma during his 2015 hospitalization. He does not know what caused him to go unconscious.
"[I have] nightmares trying to figure out how I got there," Odom said. "It's frustrating because I didn't do any drugs that night. I don't know [what caused it]. Whatever someone slipped me, it was damn good. There was some cocaine and something else in my system, but I didn't do anything that night. It's kind of hard for people to believe that when you have a reputation for doing drugs, so that's one thing that hopefully will get cleared up one day about what happened."
The late owner of the Love Ranch, Dennis Hof, claimed in an interview with CNNat the time that Odom had spent three days at the brothel and spent $75,000 while there.
One of the most highly publicized moments surrounding Odom's health crisis was when his estranged wife rushed to be by his side, along with her mother Kris Jenner and other members of their famous reality TV family.
"It goes to show you what a hell of a woman she is and her family upbringing," Odom said. "It makes me feel great [knowing she was by my bedside], our connection will never go anywhere... we are still friends."
The couple married in 2009, just one month after meeting and five days after announcing their engagement. They were wed in a ceremony that was filmed for an E! special and went on to star in their own reality TV show, "Khloé & Lamar."
Their marriage began to fall apart in 2013, after Odom admitted to violating NBA drug policies and pleaded no contest to a DUI charge. Kardashian filed for divorcethat same year.
She briefly withdrew her petition following Odom'shospitalization, but the two officially divorced in 2016.
"I was fortunate to be part of their family. I still consider myself a part of their family," Odom said. "It just goes to show you their strength and endurance as a family that they can do anything. With their love and the love of my family, I think that's what woke me up [out of a coma]."
Although the couple have been divorced for nearly three years, Odom still hopes for a reconciliation.
"I am still deeply in love with my ex wife," he said. "But, then again, I have to live in a rational space. If it's just being her friend, then that's a blessing in itself. If it goes further, than that, of course that's the icing on the cake."
Odom said he'd remarry Kardashian "in a heartbeat."
For now, Odom said he's trying to make up for lost time with his two children. (His daughter, Destiny Odom, 21, was present at the interview).
"I'm trying to reconnect with them and my family members, because I missed so much," he said.
Odom also hopes toreturn to the basketball court, he said, whether in the NBA or abroad. He last played in the in the 2012-13 season, when he was with the Los Angeles Clippers, before playing briefly in Spain in 2014.
"I think I'll play basketball again," he said. "I'm only 40 years old. I've never really had any serious injuries."
Odom's path to redemption, it seems, is rooted close to home.
"You've got to surround yourself with people who want to strive to be better than you," he said. "The company I kept was the key to my downfall. You're sitting there with your so called friends and getting high, I was keeping horrible company."