Abacus Federal Savings in Chinatown, New York : SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL

 

MarketWatch

The story behind the only bank prosecuted after the 2008 financial crisis

Link

After the 2008 financial crisis took millions of investment dollars from Americans, shell shocked financial advisers and briefly turned the country upside down, only one bank was indicted: Abacus Federal Savings in Chinatown, New York — the 2,531st largest bank in the U.S.

Founded by Chinese-American immigrant Thomas Sung in the 1980s, the bank has six branches in three states and primarily serves the Chinese community. Federal prosecutors indicted it in 2009 for mortgage fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracy after it reported to regulators it had discovered a loan officer was laundering money there.

Rather than plead guilty, the Sungs went to court. A new documentary from Oscar-nominated “Hoop Dreams” director Steve James follows the subsequent legal battle, which plays out in the film as a David and Goliath tale of a small bank taking the fall for the financial crisis over an isolated incident with a corrupt loan officer.

“Too big to fail turns into small enough to jail, and Abacus is small enough to jail,” journalist Matt Taibbi says in the film, calling the bank “as easy a target as you could possibly pick.”

With an intimate view of the fight for innocence from a stoic Thomas Sung, his razor sharp daughters (all lawyers), and his fiery wife, it’s clear the film has a sympathetic eye for Abacus as it goes up against the U.S. government, frequently comparing Thomas Sung to George Bailey in his wife’s favorite film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

“It seemed clear to us as filmmakers that this bank was the mirror opposite of the big banks,” director Steve James told MarketWatch in a recent interview, noting that the Sungs reported the fraud discovered at the bank themselves. “Yet they were the ones singled out, and it kind of leads one to the conclusion that this was about planting a flag and getting a trophy to be the one prosecutor, since the feds didn’t prosecute any big banks.”

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. argued that there was fraud widespread enough to warrant an investigation. In May 2012, he announced charges against the bank, two supervisors, and nine former employees — 184 counts including residential mortgage fraud, security fraud, conspiracy, and falsification of business records.

As the film expresses, the indictment put on trial not just the bank itself, but the reputation of Chinese immigrants and the cash culture of Chinatown. As Jill Sung, one of the daughters, notes at one point in the film, many of their members had never used a bank before. Now, with the movie’s premiere in New York on May 19 and the trial two years behind them, her focus has turned back on the bank.

“That is the hardest part, and what I focus on most, to ensure the bank can regain itself and be profitable,” Jill Sung told MarketWatch. “We are a community bank, a minority depository institution, which means we are mission-based to help our community. Any capital we get back we put back into the bank to help our community, so profitability to us is not just about dividends and shareholders — it’s about continuing to be able to do our mission and start being profitable again.”

The film is a celebration of the American dream — as well as a kind of eulogy for the community bank. Since the financial crisis, Jill Sung said not much has changed, though big banks continue to get bigger and community banks are consolidating. With scenes from George Bailey’s ‘Bailey Building and Loan’ woven among modern-day lines of neighbors and family outside Abacus throughout, the film shows something she says is central to their practice and is being lost: community.

“There are a lot of new banks that are creating digital communities, and I think it’s great — you can have a George Bailey of digital banks,” she said. “What’s more concerning is when you have big banks where there is no community, there’s no access, there is no feeling you can talk to anybody if you have a problem. The consumer suffers in the end because they get taken advantage of and have no other choices.”

Abacus was found “not guilty” on all 240 counts after months of deliberation and a hung jury.

 

Videos

Videos – Movies

  1. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Indie
    Link
  2. SinoVision English Channel Archives
    • Abacus: small enough to jail
      Abacus Federal Savings Bank is a family-run bank that has served New York’s Chinatown for over three decades. Its services include helping Chinese immigrants obtain loans for homes and small businesses and despite steady its growth, the bank was still only the 2651st largest bank in the country. Facing charges brought by Manhattan District attorney Cyrus Vance Jr, Abacus federal savings bank founder Thomas Sung and his four daughters decided to fight for justice. The legal battle was drawn out over five years and recorded by acclaimed filmmaker Steve James and made into the documentary.
      Published On :- 2017-May-18th
      Link
  3. Film Festival
    • Wisconsin
      • Madeline Uranek (left) and Ronnie Hess (right) from Open Doors for Refugees led a post-screening discussion of “Abacus: Small Enough to Jail,” a 2017 Wisconsin Film Festival selection.
        Link
  4. Director Steve James on ABACUS: SMALL ENOUGH TO JAIL (2017) – Celluloid Dreams
    Link

 

Videos – Law Case

  1. Bloomberg Law
    • Abacus Bank’s Lawyer: Fannie Mae Earned $120M Profit From Us
      Link

 

 

Hilton Als – “MOONLIGHT” UNDOES OUR EXPECTATIONS

Story Telling

Storytelling is one area we all share as humanity.

Yet it is rare that we are closed enough to reality, or in some cases things don’t turn out well or they just drag on and on, and it is impossible to claim victory or honestly package them up.

And, so it is good to return back to how Tarell Alvin McCraney & Barry Jenkins were able to emerge from their Natural Inheritance.

 

Hilton Als

Link


Did I ever imagine, during my anxious, closeted childhood, that I’d live long enough to see a movie like “Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins’s brilliant, achingly alive new work about black queerness? Did any gay man who came of age, as I did, in the era of Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and aids, think he’d survive to see a version of his life told onscreen with such knowledge, unpredictability, and grace? Based on a story by the gay black playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney—Jenkins himself is not gay—the film is virtuosic in part because of Jenkins’s eye and in part because of the tale it tells, which begins in nineteen-eighties Miami.

Four white Miami-Dade police officers have beaten a young black man to death and been acquitted of manslaughter, setting off riots in the city’s black enclaves—Liberty City, Overtown, and elsewhere. It’s hard for a man of color walking those sun-bleached streets not to watch his back or feel that his days are numbered. That’s how Juan (the beautiful Mahershala Ali) carries himself—defensively, warily. He’s a dope dealer, so there’s that, too. He may be a boss on the streets—his black do-rag is his crown—but he’s intelligent enough to know that he’s expendable, that real power doesn’t belong to men like him. Crack is spreading through the city like a fever. Stepping out of his car, Juan asks a cranky drug runner what’s up. (Jenkins and his ardent cinematographer, James Laxton, film the car as if it were a kind of enclosed throne.) Juan, his mouth fixed in a pout—sometimes he sucks on his tongue, as if it were a pacifier—doesn’t take his eyes off the street. He can’t afford to; this situation, any situation, could be changed in an instant by a gun or a knife.

In this world, which is framed by the violence to come—because it will come—Juan sees a skinny kid running, his backpack flapping behind him. He’s being pursued by a group of boys, and he ducks into a condemned building to escape. Juan follows, entering through a blasted-out window, a symbol, perhaps, of the ruin left by the riots. Inside, in a dark, silent space, the kid stares at Juan, and Juan stares at the kid. There’s a kind of mirroring going on. Maybe Juan is looking at his past while the boy looks up at a future he didn’t know he could have. It’s a disorienting scene, not so much because of what happens as because of what doesn’t happen. Throughout the movie, Jenkins avoids what I call Negro hyperbole—the overblown clichés that are so often used to represent black American life. For instance, Juan doesn’t take that runaway kid under his wing in order to pimp him out and turn him into a drug runner; instead, he brings him home to feed him, nourish him.

Juan lives in a small, unassuming house with his soft-spoken but confident partner, Teresa (played by the singer Janelle Monáe). The couple look on as the kid eats and eats; it’s clear, though, that he’s hungry for more than food. The boy doesn’t even say his name, Chiron, until Juan nudges him: “You don’t talk much but you damn sure can eat.” The affectionate scolding makes Chiron (Alex Hibbert, a first-time actor, who couldn’t be better) sit up and take notice; it tells him that he counts. And he knows he counts even more when Juan calls him by his nickname—Little—as a way of claiming him.

“Faggot” is another name, and it’s one that Chiron hears often as he grows up. He’s an outsider at school, and at home, too. He lives in public housing with his single mother, Paula (Naomie Harris), who goes on drug binges, less to alleviate her sadness than to express her wrath—against the world and, especially, against her son, who she thinks keeps her from the world. Chiron lives for the moments when he can get away from his mother’s countless recriminations and needs, and swim in the unfamiliar waters of love with Juan and Teresa. One indelible scene shows Juan holding Chiron in his arms in a rippling blue ocean, teaching him to float—which is another way of teaching him the letting go that comes with trust, with love.

But, at the end of every outing, Teresa and Juan show their respect by returning Chiron home. No matter how awful Paula is, she is still Chiron’s mother. This gesture is one of many that Jenkins, who, like McCraney, was raised in Liberty City, understands from the inside out. Growing up in this community, Juan and Paula were taught to care for children, their own and others’. (There are no white characters in the film, and this is a radical move on Jenkins’s part. Whites would have introduced a different dynamic to “Moonlight.” Jenkins’s story is about a self-governing black society, no matter how fractured.) But drugs have made a mess of family, or the idea of family, and Paula gets in Juan’s face when he tries to stop her from using. She has a child, sure, but how can he talk when he’s the one selling drugs? It’s a vicious cycle, in which the characters are oppressed by everything but hope. Still, Juan does hope, if only for Chiron. That he is able to pluck that feeling out of the darkness of those Miami nights makes him a classically heroic figure: he knows his limitations, he knows that life is tragic, but he is still willing to dream.About thirty minutes into the film, Chiron, sitting at Juan and Teresa’s orderly table, asks what a faggot is. At the screening I attended, the entire audience froze, as did the figures onscreen. Then Chiron asks if he himself is a faggot. There’s no music in this scene; no one cries; Juan doesn’t grab a gun and try to blow the slandering universe away. Instead, he takes the word apart, and doesn’t take Chiron apart with it. He knows that Chiron is marked for misery, and how will Juan’s heart bear it, let alone Chiron’s?“Moonlight” undoes our expectations as viewers, and as human beings, too. As we watch, another movie plays in our minds, real-life footage of the many forms of damage done to black men, which can sometimes lead them to turn that hateful madness on their own kind, passing on the poison that was their inheritance. As Juan squires his fatherless friend about, we can’t help thinking, Will he abuse him? Will it happen now? Jenkins keeps the fear but not the melodrama in his film. He builds his scenes slowly, without trite dialogue or explosions. He respects our intelligence enough to let us just sit still and watch the glorious faces of his characters as they move through time. Scene follows scene with the kind of purposefulness you find in fairy tales, or in those Dickens novels about boys made and unmade by fate.Jenkins has influences—I would guess that Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Terrence Malick, and Charles Burnett are high on the list, along with Michael Roemer’s 1964 film “Nothing But a Man,” one of the first modern black love stories to avoid buffoonery and improbability—but what really gets him going here is filmmaking itself, and the story he’s telling. Directors such as Marlon Riggs and Isaac Julien explored gay black masculinity in the nineties, but they did so in essay-films, which allowed the audience a kind of built-in distance. Of course, no one in the nineties wanted to finance films about gay black men. Twenty years later, I still don’t know how Jenkins got this flick made. But he did. And it changes everything.The film is divided into three parts, titled “Little,” “Chiron,” and “Black.”
In the second part, Chiron (played now by Ashton Sanders) is a teen-ager, thin and walking with the push, resolve, and loneliness of a character for whom Billie Holiday would have given her all in a song. Like any young person, Chiron wants to be claimed bodily but is not entirely in his body. He’s growing up without much reinforcement outside Juan and Teresa’s home. Paula’s drug addiction has escalated and so has her anger. She’s a rotten baby, flailing around, as full of bile as Terrel (Patrick DeCile, in an incredible characterization), who bullies Chiron at school. So when a classmate, Kevin (Jharrel Jerome), shows Chiron something other than hostility, it feels like a kind of fantasy. Indeed, after Kevin jokes with Chiron about a girl, he dreams about Kevin having sex with her. And it’s like a dream one night when Chiron, trusting little but wanting to trust more, approaches Kevin at the beach where Juan taught him to swim.
The light-skinned Kevin has nicknamed Chiron Black, and he asks why, wondering if it’s a put-down. Kevin, who is more comfortable in his own body, says that it’s because Chiron is black; to him, it’s not an insult. This moment of confusion—about internalized self-hatred and the affection of naming—is unlike anything that’s been put onscreen before; it shows what freedom and pain can look like, all in one frame. When the boys kiss, Chiron apologizes for it, and we wince, because who among us hasn’t wanted to apologize for his presence? Intimacy makes the world, the body, feel strange. How does it make a boy who’s been rejected because of his skin color, his sexual interests, and his sensitivity feel? Kevin says, “What have you got to be sorry for?” As he works his hand down Chiron’s shorts, the camera pulls back; this is the only moment of physical intimacy in the film, and Jenkins knows that in this study of black male closeness the point isn’t to show fucking; it’s to show the stops and starts, the hesitation, and the rush that comes when one black male body finds pleasure and something like liberation in another.
Watching Sanders play Chiron at this stage of his life is rather like seeing Montgomery Clift act for the first time, or Gloria Foster in “Nothing But a Man.” There’s no accounting for talent like this. Sanders has a conjurer’s gifts, and an intuitive understanding of how the camera works—how it can push into an actor’s face and consciousness, and how the actor can push back against the intrusion by inhabiting the reality of the moment.
But the moment of love doesn’t last. When Terrel challenges Kevin about his attachment to Chiron, Kevin beats Chiron up, and then Terrel jumps on him, too. It’s “The Lord of the Flies” all over again: whale on sensitivity before it can get to you. In a bid to protect his dream of love, Chiron shows up at school one day and, wordlessly, breaks a chair over Terrel’s back. It’s every queer kid’s revenge fantasy, but what follows is every queer kid’s reality: fight back, and you’ll pay for it; the power does not belong to you.
In the third part of the film, Chiron (gorgeously played by Trevante Rhodes) is an adult, but still looking after his mother. She’s in rehab in Atlanta, and he has fulfilled his destiny by example: like Juan, he’s a drug dealer in a do-rag. But he doesn’t have a Teresa, doesn’t have anyone. He wears his sensitivity like a shroud around his now muscular body, which looks very black in the moonlight as he lies in bed, startled to have received a phone call from Kevin after many years. Rhodes’s portrayal of the grownup Chiron feels like a natural evolution from the earlier performances. The gold fronts that his Chiron wears are just another form of armor against longing, in a mouth that yearns to taste Kevin’s once again, to relive that forbidden love, for which black men sometimes punish one another. Rarely has the world taught them not to. But at times, when no one’s looking, love happens, just the same.

 

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Likely there are areas of our lives where we are a bit untrustworthy.  I pray we do get to recompense.

 

Quotes

  1. Shanika Hadge?
    • If you want to know where a culture is headed look at the art
  2. Mahershala Ali
    • Disengaging
      • Not be communicative
      • take ownership of our experience
      • We need ourselves
      • If I take time from it, I can go back to it and not be assaulted
    • Poetr y
    • Play
      • From the margins to the Center
    • Writing a film script
    • Understanding time more
      • Do not have time to do everything
      • When you have freedom and your own room, it is difficult
      • My Dad was dying at the time
      • Our efforts is not always in alignment with the desired destination
      • I had to learn that the hard way
      • I wasted a lot of time just chasing girls
        • It was too important to me
        • I had to be about chasing me
        • Was worrying “Who is she with now, she did not call me back”
      • There is nobody here that is more important than you
      • There is a handful of people that I still keep in touch with
        • And, that is because we contribute to each other
        • They are trying to be good fathers and good husbands

 

Grats

Gratitude to Rebecca Engle, Director of Theater @ Saint Mary,  & Mahershala Ali for narrating…here

And, also to all those wanting and waiting for a good story to tell.

As I watch more of the Video, it is so obvious how much Rebecca Engle has invested in teaching and training Mahershala.

And, far more endearingly, how much she wants him to be successful not just commercially, but through the story that gets to be told through him, as well.

 

Lamar Odom – “What Can Grow Even From There”

Introduction

Everyone has a ministry and there are obstacles that come along to take one off Living it!

I really like this story by Lee Jenkins as it captures the personhood of Lamar Odom.

 

Sports Illustrated ( SI ) – Lee Jenkins take on Lamar Odom – March 23, 2009

LEE JENKINS
Link

Wednesday October 14th, 2015

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in the March 23, 2009 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. Lamar Odom was reportedly found unconscious on Tuesday at a Nevada brothel. He’s currently being treated at a nearby hospital.

The happiest Laker is the one whose father was addicted to heroin, whose mother died of colon cancer when he was 12, who attended three high schools, had his first college scholarship revoked before the fall semester of his freshman year, became a subject of three college investigations, declared for the NBA draft, tried unsuccessfully to pull out of the draft, was picked by arguably the worst franchise in sports, violated the league’s antidrug policy twice within eight months and after finally getting his life together, went home to New York City for an aunt’s funeral and wound up burying his 6 1/2-month-old son, then getting robbed at gunpoint.

“That’s my book,” says Lamar Odom. “That’s my movie. It’s a big bowl of gumbo.”

As he ponders working titles for his life story—“This is L.A., so you never know,” he says—he is wearing a white sweat suit and driving a white Mercedes down Interstate 405 to an autograph signing in Orange County, one hand on the steering wheel and another deep inside a bag of potato chips. Every few minutes, he turns and glances at the backseat, where his 10-year-old daughter, Destiny, and 7-year-old son, Lamar Jr., are occupied with their own snacks.

“My grandmother was always upbeat, a naturally happy person,” he says, chomping on the chips. “I think I got that from her.” His grandmother was Mildred Mercer, who raised him when his parents were gone. She died on June 28, 2003, three years to the day before his baby boy.

Maybe Grandma Mildred is to thank for one of the most irrepressible personalities in the NBA, a 6’10” forward who, at 29, has been in the league for 10 seasons and famous for nearly half his life, and yet still wears his mitt when he goes to baseball games in the hope of catching a foul ball, collects pro wrestling figurines as a hobby and asks the staffer behind him on the team’s plane for permission to recline his seat because “my legs are kind of long.” More than an hour into the autograph signing in Huntington Beach, Destiny spotted a bulge in her dad’s left sneaker. “What’s that?” she asked. Odom reached into his size-16 hightop and pulled out the crumpled potato chip bag. “I didn’t know what else to do with it,” he said. Destiny smiled and shook her head.

If you were going to build a basketball player in a lab, it might look like Lamar Odom, a broad-shouldered Stretch Armstrong. He’s a point guard in a power forward’s body, long enough to anchor the post but coordinated enough to lead the break. The problem with trying to engineer another Odom is programming what he’s going to say. After his best game of this season, when he scored 28 points and grabbed 17 rebounds in Cleveland in February, capping a 6–0 road trip and dealing the Cavaliers their first home loss of the season, he said in a postgame interview, “I’m ready to go home and put my feet in the sand.” A month later, as he walked barefoot down Manhattan Beach, sweatpants hiked up to his knees, view clear to Catalina Island, he cooed, “This is the Laker lifestyle.” He is an unrestricted free agent after the season and cannot fathom a move inland.

While Kobe Bryant is the king of Staples Center, Odom is a gifted and versatile court jester. “I’ve heard fans yell to him in the middle of games, ‘Nice shot!’ and he’ll turn around and say, ‘Thanks, man,’” says John Ireland, sideline reporter for Lakers telecasts on KCAL 9. Before the Dec. 25 game against the Celtics at Staples, Odom was wishing fans in the courtside seats Merry Christmas when he stopped at Adam Sandler. “Happy Hanukkah,” he said. Topics in his interviews range from his favorite TV show (MacGyver) to his favorite tourist destination (“Paris,” he says. “I can smell the wine in the air”) to his alter ego (“There’s Lamar, who’s humble, and then there’s Odom”) to his unconventional wardrobe, including a Sergeant Pepper–style ensemble that prompted coach Phil Jackson to ask Odom if he had come to the arena straight from band practice. Says point guard Derek Fisher, “He’s our new Shaquille O’Neal.”

Odom carries himself with an ease and optimism reminiscent of O’Neal and before that Magic Johnson, but he is an original. The person he calls Dad is a 47-year-old white man of no relation. He signed with UNLV in part because he stopped in a Las Vegas nightclub on his recruiting visit and saw a rap group from New York City, which he interpreted as an omen. He would wind up at Rhode Island, where in his first meeting with coach Jim Harrick he asked for a backpack. “I don’t think he’d ever had a backpack before,” Harrick says. Odom declared for the draft after one season at Rhode Island, but he had such misgivings about the move that he hatched a plan to play for the Celtics while commuting to URI to continue his class work. “It would have been groundbreaking,” he says. After it became clear that the NBA is indeed a full-time job — Odom was taken fourth by the Clippers in 1999 — he hired a tennis agent who had never represented a basketball player before. Don’t question his intuition, though. That tennis agent, Jeff Schwartz, is now one of the premier agents in the NBA, with a client list that includes Paul Pierce, Jason Kidd and Josh Howard.

Before every game the Lakers lock arms and form a circle around Odom. He is an unusual centerpiece: not their captain, not their best player, not their second best player, and when center Andrew Bynum returns from his knee injury, maybe not even their third best player. (At week’s end Odom was averaging a career-low 10.6 points and 8.0 rebounds, though his adjusted plus-minus was fourth in the league.) But when the lights dim and the decibels rise and Odom starts bouncing up and down in the middle of the circle—“We’re the best team in the NBA!” he shouts—the Lakers bounce with him.

Lakers G.M. Mitch Kupchak says Odom is the most popular player in L.A.’s locker room, but he also might be the most popular player in the locker room next door. The Los Angeles D-Fenders are the Lakers’ developmental-league affiliate; they practice in the same gym and play on the same court as the NBA players but reap few of the other benefits. “Most guys at that level don’t have time for us,” says guard Brandon Heath. “But L.O. is always telling us to come over to his house, offering to take us out to dinner. We could damn near go over there in our drawers, and he’d probably take us to buy clothes.”

The Lakers are paying Odom $14.6 million this year, and he gives a fair amount back. “I saw him signing autographs after a game and told him to hurry up and get on the bus or he’d be fined,” says Robert Lara, the Lakers’ head of security “He told me he’d take the hit. He couldn’t say no to the kids.” Odom has a hard time saying no to parents as well. “I know one boy who doesn’t even play basketball, but Lamar pays his tuition,” says Joseph Arbitello, a former teammate of Odom’s at Christ the King in Queens, N.Y., and now the coach and athletic director there. “His mother was struggling, so she called Lamar and he took care of it.”

Sharing has long been part of his game. Growing up, Odom’s idol was Magic, not Michael. He preferred to dish rather than dunk. “When we had college scouts come watch us, he wouldn’t shoot,” says Arbitello. “He wanted to make everybody else look good.” Odom’s reluctance to score drove coaches crazy but made him beloved by teammates. “Lamar is not the kind of guy who will ever say, ‘F— this, give me the ball,’” says Gary Charles, who coached Odom’s AAU team, the Long Island Panthers. “He could not score a point and be happy as heck.” Of course, players change when they get to the NBA, where salary is often proportional to scoring average. “Lamar’s a pleaser,” says his personal trainer, Robbie Davis. “He wants to throw you an alley-oop and give you a pound on the way back down.”

Odom’s you-first mentality would not seem suited to showbiz, but Hollywood is drawn to him. He has appeared on HBO’s Entourage (Johnny Drama lusts after his calf muscles) and MTV’s Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory (Odom plays one-on-one against Dyrdek, who is wearing stilts for the showdown). He has his own clothing line (Rich Soil), his own record label (Rich Soil Entertainment) and is part-owner of a restaurant called East that’s due to open this spring in Hollywood. “He surrounds himself with cutting-edge-thinking people,” says Dyrdek, who’s also an investor in the restaurant. Odom has been romantically linked to Taraji P. Henson, the Oscar-nominated actress from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. There is a long history of athletes dating actresses, but few have been of Henson’s caliber. She is 38 and the mother of a 14-year-old boy, a star rather than a starlet. “I think about her sometimes on the court, about what she’s done,” Odom said. “It makes me want to play better.”

When Odom learned before this season that he’d be coming off the bench for the first time since ninth grade—in a contract year no less—he wondered aloud if Jackson had “bumped his head.” But soon after, Odom said he would accept the diminished role, insisting it was Odom who had balked and not his better angel Lamar.

“I sometimes have to stop and remind myself how much this guy has been through and how much he’s lost,” Fisher says. “I’m sure there is anger and disappointment inside of him, but to have his spirit, to have his approach to everyday life, I don’t know how he does it.”

He may have inherited his good nature from Grandma Mildred, but he gets his perspective from personal experience. He sat at his mother’s bedside as she took her final breath. He held his son’s body for three hours after young Jayden succumbed to sudden infant death syndrome. Odom was kicked out of UNLV before he’d played a single game—a graduate assistant knocked on his door and informed him that he was being released from his scholarship because his ACT score had come into question. He was admitted to Rhode Island only as “a nonmatriculating student” and was not allowed to play so much as intramural basketball. He wept at a press conference with the Clippers after the league had suspended him a second time for smoking marijuana. “People used to call me Little Lloyd,” Odom says, referring to Lloyd Daniels, a fun-loving, ball handling big man from the New York City playgrounds who went to UNLV, was arrested for buying cocaine and later was shot three times in a drug dispute. Daniels survived and kept playing basketball, but his name is synonymous with talent wasted.

Odom’s name, on the other hand, is synonymous with talent salvaged. In the past five years he has overhauled his reputation, proving that he is not the slacker who left Christ the King because of poor grades (“stupid, stupid, stupid,” he says) or the mercenary who took $5,600 from a UNLV booster, landing the school on probation after he left, or the enigma who would take off from Rhode Island’s campus for days at a time, turning off his phone and checking into a hotel to find a little solitude. After signing a six-year, $65 million free-agent deal with the Heat in 2003, he started an AAU basketball program called Team Odom, so that the next generation of prodigies might receive better guidance than he did. He also renovated the family’s row house in Queens where he grew up and added a studio apartment where he can stay when he’s in town. He even apologized recently to his coach with the Clippers, Alvin Gentry, believing he was somehow responsible for Gentry’s firing in 2003.

“Lamar came to see me a few years ago, and he told me he was lucky he survived,” says Bob Oliva, Odom’s coach at Christ the King. “I told him his mother must have been looking down on him from heaven.”

To an outsider, it may seem that Odom hides his grief beneath a veil of humor, but in fact he confronts it first thing every morning. Besides the traditional memorials—tattoos of family members and names scrawled on sneakers — his bedroom in Manhattan Beach is filled with photographs of his mom, Cathy Mercer, and of Jayden. Odom does not like cemeteries, but he loves pictures. “I look at them right when I wake up,” he says. “That’s when I like to reflect on things.” When Mercer died, Odom ran to the basketball court at Lincoln Park in Queens and shot jumpers all night. But when Jayden died, Odom recognized that he would need more than blacktop to heal. He spent two years seeing William Parham, a psychologist from UCLA, and after sessions he would walk out and tell the Lakers’ trainers, “I feel like I just went to the bathroom.” He meant it in the most therapeutic way.

Odom has reconnected with his father, Joe, who is now drug-free, but he remains closer to another man he calls his dad. Jerry DeGregorio coached Odom in high school (at St. Thomas Aquinas Prep), college (as an assistant at URI) and the NBA (as a front-office staffer with the Clippers) but taught him more about family and faith. DeGregorio is the godfather to Destiny and Lamar Jr., and he sits with them in the first row behind the basket at Staples Center. (The kids live about 20 minutes from Lamar with their mother, Liza Morales, who was also Jayden’s mom.) Odom winks at them during timeouts and rolls his eyes at them if he misses a free throw. When Odom and DeGregorio are together, they hold hands and pray for wisdom, protection, guidance and peace. When they are apart, they pray over the phone. “Lamar has lived two lives, one full of blessings and one full of tragedies,” says DeGregorio. “Everything bad about amateur basketball happened to him—street agents, sneaker companies, college boosters. How many people go through that grinder and come out the other side?”

How Odom’s odyssey affects his game, and in turn the Lakers’ chance to win the championship this season, is something Phil Jackson is still figuring out. Every player has swings in his stat line, but Odom can score 23 points in a game, as he did on Feb. 26 against the Suns, and then score four, as he did in Phoenix three days later. “Most of it with Lamar is internal,” Jackson says. “It’s part of his psyche. He’s distracted at times. We try to work with him a lot on focus.” Asked if Odom’s lapses are connected to his personal saga, Jackson says, “Without a doubt.”

Odom and Bryant have never duplicated the Pippen-Jordan dynamic that Jackson hoped to re-create, but their rapport is one reason L.A. is at the top of the Western Conference. The two first played together at Adidas ABCD camps in high school; after Parade magazine named Bryant its player of the year in 1996, Odom won the same honor in ’97. When Odom was contemplating whether to skip college and go directly to the NBA, he flew to Los Angeles to seek Bryant’s counsel, staying at Bryant’s house. Says Kobe, “I told him there was no right or wrong decision.”

Odom’s career path would have been much simpler if he had followed Bryant straight to the pros, but he wasn’t wired that way. Bryant is preternaturally assertive, Odom deferential. What makes them different makes them jibe. Odom’s inconsistency invites outrage among talk-radio callers and message-board posters who clamor for him to be more aggressive, more like Bryant. But the last time the team had two players with the same self-interests, one of them had to be shipped to Miami. Odom was one of the key players acquired from the Heat in the 2004 trade of Shaq.

“A lot of people have wasted a lot of time thinking about who they want Lamar Odom to be rather than appreciating him for who he is,” says Jeff Van Gundy, the ESPN analyst who was coaching the Knicks when Odom was making headlines as a New York City high school star. “I always look back at where he started. In stories like his, you don’t see a lot of happy endings. So when you do see one, I think it should be celebrated.”

Odom’s clothing line includes scores of T-shirts depicting animals and religious images. But there is one emblazoned with a framed black-and-white photograph of a basketball court. It is the court at Lincoln Park where Odom played the night his mother died. Superimposed over the bottom right corner is a bright red rose. As Odom walks on the beach, about as far from that court as he can get in the continental U.S., he is asked if the rose is a symbol of his mom. “No,” he says. “It’s a symbol of what can grow, even from there.”

The rose is Lamar.

Videos

Lamar Odom

  1. Lamar Odom’s Message to Khloe & Biggest Regret
    NBA star Lamar Odom joins The Doctors for an exclusive interview, where he reveals his surprising message to his ex-wife Khloe Kardashian and his biggest regrets.
    Published On : 2017-Jan-17th
    Link
  2. Lamar Odom Sobriety Test
    Published On : 2017-Jan-17th
    Link
  3. Lamar Odom Breaks His Silence: ‘Everything Was My Fault’
    Lamar Odom cheated death 17 months ago. “I’m a walking miracle,” says the former NBA star and ex-husband of Khloé Kardashian, admitting he suffered 12 strokes and two heart attacks after being found comatose October 13, 2015, at a Las Vegas–area brothel. Cocaine use and reckless behavior had already ended his four-year marriage. Yet Kardashian delayed a divorce to support his recovery, ultimately refiling in May 2016 after the Queens native was photographed drinking at L.A.’s Beverly Center.
    Published On : 2017-March-29th
    Link

 

Caleb Swanigan

  1. Adoptive father helped formerly homeless boy to basketball stardom
    Caleb Swanigan of the Purdue Boilermakers is one of the best players in college basketball. But a few years ago, he looked nothing like the man he is today. Steve Hartman reports.
    Published On: 2017-March-3rd

    Link
  2. Purdue Men’s Basketball / Caleb Swanigan – Transformative
    Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan is a front-runner for National Player of the Year honors. Here is his transformative story.
    Published On: 2017-Feb-15th
    Link

 

Other Videos

  1. Joe Nichols
    • Joe Nichols – If Nobody Believed In You
      Published On: – 2019-Oct-5th
      Link
    • Joe Nichols – The Impossible
      Published On :- 2007-Oct-7th
      Link
    • Joe Nichols – She Only Smokes when she drinks
      Published On :- 2009-Oct-7th
      Link
  2. Kenny Chesney
    • Kenny Chesney – That is why I am here
      Published On : 2009-Nov-23rd
      Link
  3. Billy Currington
    • Billy Currington – Walk A Little Straighter
      Published On :- 2009-Oct-6th
      Link

 

Quotes

  1. Lamar Odom
    • Lee Jenkins, SI
      • Superimposed over the bottom right corner is a bright red rose. As Odom walks on the beach, about as far from that court as he can get in the continental U.S., he is asked if the rose is a symbol of his mom. “No,” he says. “It’s a symbol of what can grow, even from there.”
    • The Doctors
      • Sobriety
        • It is new, but it is good to be sober
      • When I went to treatment before I was a boy. When I left treatment this time, I came out a Man.
      • God
        • It was a Spiritual Journey for me, as well.  To find that higher power and get closer to him
      • Kids
        • When you are doing drugs, you become distance from everything.  Even your kids, you become numb
        • To restore what we have as a family is important to me
      • Addiction
        • I know now it is a Brain disease
      • If you have one regret what will it be, wasted time, because you can never get that back
    • Lamar Odom Breaks His Silence: ‘Everything Was My Fault’
      • If you live with the Devil, you might start to like him
      • If you are trying to be in a serious relationship
      • Children
        • If you smoke a lot, you probably can not have children
        • Your Spam don’t swim straight