Liza Morales is no stranger to controversy. She is the former long-time girlfriend of NBA star of Lamar Odom, who plays with the Los Angeles Clippers, which means she’s forever linked in some ways to his wife, Khloe Kardashian, and her infamous Hollywood family. She’s also the mother of Odom’s two children, Destiny and Lamar Odom Jr. Their third child, Jayden, died at six months old of SIDS in 2006.
Morales stars on the very controversial “Starter Wives,” which had aired three episodes on Wednesday nights on the TLC network until last week; for reasons the network hasn’t clarified, the show can now only be seen on the network’s website. “Starter Wives,” though, has kicked up controversy of its own: Rappers 50 Cent and DMX and fighter Floyd Mayweather, whose exes appear in the show, all complained about their girlfriends’ and wives’ involvement, and 50 Cent claimed recently that he is responsible for the show’s being removed from the air.
Whether on air or online, Morales still wanted to make her case as to why she chose to star on a reality show that reveals so much about her personal life. In an open letter she does just that and talks about what the future holds for her without Lamar.
I don’t think I’ll forget the tight knot I felt in the pit of my stomach the morning I received the text message with three simple words on the screen. It read “I’m getting married” and it was from the man I’d spent more than 10 years of my life with. Years that included us getting engaged in 2000 and becoming parents to one daughter and two sons. Yet not long after our separation Lamar Odom was getting married to Khloe Kardashian, a woman he’d met four weeks before. How could the man who’d constantly given me reason after reason for why we couldn’t get married just yet now be ready to tie the knot so quickly? There aren’t words to explain how I felt that day.
I met Lamar in the 9th grade in Queens, New York, and was completely taken in by his wit, charm, and that devastating smile he so easily flashed at anyone he met. We dated from the 11th grade on and shared a tight bond due to a lot of things, including the fact that we both were products of broken homes.
It can be difficult to avoid hearing about the Kardashians day in and day out. But I do what I can.
Though my parents weren’t together, I did have a very close relationship with my father, whom I loved dearly and consider my hero. He worked very hard to make sure I could attend Catholic school and have everything I needed. But when I started dating Lamar that all changed. My father is Puerto Rican and he didn’t approve of me dating a black man. His small mind and small thinking ended the relationship with my dad. I wanted a life with Lamar and needed my family to support that. The next 10 years would be an amazing journey filled with many ups and down but Lamar and I were creating the family we’d both always dreamed of. Or so I thought.
We talked about marriage a lot during those days but Lamar would always tell me that NBA marriages never lasted. He’d point to Shaquille O’Neal’s marriage ending or Dwayne Wade’s marriage ending as examples of why we should wait until he retired to tie the knot. He told me he wanted to leave the game early and then the timing would be perfect for us. I listened to the many reasons why we weren’t married yet and believed them, knowing deep inside something wasn’t right. And then I slowly morphed into the girl I promised myself I’d never become, the girl who stayed long after she knew she shouldn’t. Truth is, I wanted that fairy tale so badly that I couldn’t bear to walk away from that life or take my children away from the comfort and security of a two-parent home.
I struggled to deal with all the groupies around him and with whatever else that was going on and just stayed put. My denial came to an abrupt end in 2006 after the death of Jayden. Lamar and I never really talked about our loss, which I know wasn’t healthy and also meant our relationship would never last. It couldn’t. I found out soon after that he’d had a long-term relationship with another woman—a relationship he said he’d end but he didn’t—and that was that.
We kept things cordial for the children’s sake after the breakup, but that changed when he married Khloe. Now we only communicate through third parties and lawyers, which I regret deeply since it is exactly what we each experienced as children and said we wouldn’t do to our kids.
I’ve only met Khloe once, at my request since she is my children’s stepmother and I felt it was important to get a sense of her and what she’s like around my children. It was a very pleasant meeting, she gave me a hug so I’m happy it happened.
Though some frown upon my decision to do a reality show, I agreed to be a part of “Starter Wives” so I could tell my own story of how things unfolded after Lamar married Khloe. We weren’t really together so I didn’t fall apart as many have suggested. I’ve have to deal with a lot of tabloid lies as the result of all the attention Lamar gets since he’s married to someone so famous.
To be honest I’m really doing the show for my daughter to prove to her that you can get up and move on after things fall apart. I did it to show her how you make mistakes and fix them and that you can never give up on yourself. She needed to see that and hear it from me. I think I also hope my father sees it as well. The only time I’ve seen my dad in recent years was at the funeral for my son. That was the first time Lamar had ever met him or that the kids had a chance to meet him. I’d really love for my kids to have their grandparents in their lives. They've met Lamar's father (his mother passed away before we met) and are very close to my mother. I’d like to see that change and see them have relationships with both of their grandfathers.
As I continue to move on with my life, it can be difficult to avoid hearing about the Kardashians day in and day out. But I do what I can to ignore the constant chatter and I try to keep it from the kids as well so they can have a life that is as normal as possible. I am hopeful that one day I will have a cordial relationship again with Lamar, but until then I have to think of myself and the future I’d like to have given that I’m still in my early 30’s.
I know Lamar wasn’t that happy with the show but it’s helping me move on with my life by getting my truth out there and that’s what’s important. I’m taking college courses now to help with my dream of creating a skin care line in the future. I spent a great deal of my young life focused only on Lamar and his world. That’s all over now. I'm looking forward to meeting someone new and finding a love again and finally walking down the aisle. I'm hopeful that I'll find someone willing to be a role model and a father figure for my children. They deserve that. Today it’s about me and the kids and moving forward. No anger or regrets. Just lessons learned and good days ahead.
—as told to Allison Samuels