Lamar Odom might not be an ace at the day-to-day rigors of running a charity, but that doesn’t mean he’s not an extremely charitable person whose heart is in the right place. Just days after being the subject of a scathing ESPN report on athletes who run illegal or mismanaged organizations, the Clippers big man was defended in the press today by someone with first-hand knowledge of Odom’s giving spirit.

More than a decade ago, Odom met an eleven-year-old with huge basketball upside named Ryan Pearson. The kid’s family lacked the funding to allow him to improve his game; so, Lamar reportedly paid for him to join a high level traveling basketball team and later, to attend a private high school. Thanks in part to that generosity, Pearson was eventually able to secure a scholarship to George Mason and now plays basketball professionally in Europe. Pearson’s mother doesn’t know exactly where the money came from, but she told TMZ she believes some of it came from Cathy’s Kids.

There’s a big difference between lacking common sense and being a thief. Running a charity with a partial mission of donating money to cancer research and then failing to donate any money to cancer research shows a startling lack of common sense. Odom is most definitely guilty of that, but at this point, there’s no evidence whatsoever to prove he pocketed any of the funds. More than likely, they went to kids exactly like Pearson who really needed help. So, until I hear otherwise, I’m going to keep thinking Odom is a good dude.

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