Lamar Odom, LA Lakers -- LAX Nightclub, Luxor Casino, Las Vegas

Lamar Odom, LA Lakers (under the FLIGHT sign), Las Vegas, Oct. 15, 2009

TMZ reports that veteran basketball player Lamar Odom, who was arrested in California’s San Fernando Valley Friday morning for DUI, has hired noted criminal defense lawyer Robert Shapiro, of OJ Simpson trial fame. Odom, a free agent who was formerly with the Clippers and the Lakers, was arrested early on Friday after California Highway Patrol (CHP) saw him driving erratically on the 101 Freeway, according to an L.A. Times article by Richard Winton and Kate Mather posted on Fox Sports West.

Officials said the 6-foot-10 forward, who is 33, was heading eastward just before 4 a.m. in a white Mercedes sports utility vehicle when he was spotted driving “in a serpentine manner” below freeway speeds, at about 50 mph, the L.A. Times writes. According to the CHP, he showed signs of being under the influence of either drugs or alcohol and failed a field sobriety test.

Ben Bolch and Richard Winton write for the L.A. Times that Odom refused all chemical tests at the Van Nuys jail to determine his level and type of intoxication, as a result of which:

[…] CHP officer Leland Tang said, Odom’s driver’s license will be suspended a year under California law. Tang said that if Odom had taken the tests, he would probably have faced a reduced suspension of his license.

Odom was booked into custody at 5:01 a.m. and released at 8:33 a.m., after posting a $15,000 bond, the L.A. Times writes, noting that “An inventory of Odom’s SUV revealed no drugs, alcohol or other contraband, [California Highway Patrol Officer Leland] Tang added.” Odom is expected in Van Nuys Municipal Court in Sept. 27.

Tang told the L.A. Times that the Los Angeles city attorney’s office will review the investigation and decide whether misdemeanor charges will be filed. Odom also had a minor traffic accident Aug. 24 on the 101 Freeway involving L.A. Times reporter Adolfo Flores, in which no one was injured, the newspaper reports.

TMZ writes that lawyer Robert Shapiro is known for plea bargaining, and speculated about the strategy for Odom:

These cases are pretty standard — he’ll probably plead no contest to one count of DUI and get probation. He’ll also be required to attend an alcohol ed class. And, since he refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test, he’ll automatically get his driver’s license yanked for 1 year. No getting around that.

TMZ also notes that Shapiro represented OJ Simpson in his murder trial along with lawyer Robert Kardashian, whose youngest daughter, Khloe Kardashian Odom, has been married to Lamar Odom for four years. The L.A. Times writes that Odom’s arrest came after almost a week of concerned tweets from former coaches and teammates of his regarding reports from gossip websites about alleged drug use and problems in his marriage.

According to the L.A. Times:

‘Lamar can’t play anymore,’ said one senior executive with an NBA team who spoke on condition of anonymity because he did not want to publicly discuss a free agent. The 6-foot-10 forward averaged career lows in points (4.0), assists (1.7) and minutes (19.7) last season with the Clippers.

If Odom does sign with a team and is convicted of DUI, he will face a mandatory evaluation by the director of the NBA’s anti-drug program, according to terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement.

Odom had a difficult childhood, the L.A. Times writes, with a father who was addicted to heroin and a mother who died when he was 12. In recent years, he has endured more strife: his cousin was murdered in 2011, and a car he was riding in that same year collided with a motorcycle and struck and killed a 15-year-old boy.

Image by Kaloozer (Mark Richardson).

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