Greg Oden says he suffered through depression and alcohol addiction while signed to Trailblazers

Greg Oden’s entire NBA career thus far, has been one seemingly never ending lowlight. One injury after another kept the former number one pick for the Portland Trailblazers off the NBA stage. In a recent interview Oden discussed the challenges he’s faced being an almost-superstar. Alcohol addiction, depression and offers to undertake a second career in the porn industry are just a few of the situations peppering his last 5 years on the fringes of the NBA:

“For starters, Portland isn’t a great city to live in if you’re a young, African American male with a lot of money,” Greg explained with an embarrassed grin. “But that’s especially true if you don’t have anybody to guide you. Since I was hurt the entire season, I was on my own a bunch and didn’t have veteran teammates around to help me adapt to the NBA lifestyle.”

Jill Says: People can really underestimate what a good veteran can do for an emerging  talent. Everyone can benefit from a mentor. Sometimes when you see teams pick up an older vet and you’re wondering why, sometimes it may be as simple as what he can offer in the locker room setting. 

Even while adjusting to the change in culture, Greg successfully rehabbed his knee and played in 61 games the following season… after longing for a veteran role model the previous season, Greg got exactly what he wanted in his second year, only the results were disastrous. That’s because it wasn’t an NBA veteran who took Greg under his wing in his second season — it was his veteran cousin from the Air Force who moved into Greg’s house in Portland.

“If you know anything about guys in the Air Force,” Greg explained, “it’s that they drink a ton. My cousin got wrapped up in the NBA lifestyle and threw parties at my house all the time. So I got wrapped up in it too. When I played well, I’d drink to celebrate. And when I played poorly, I’d drink to forget. That second year in Portland I pretty much became an alcoholic.”

Jill Says: Having a friend move to an NBA city with you is a mixed blessing. On one hand you have someone there who knew you “when.” They get you. However, it’s more than likely a lifestyle change for them as well. It’s so easy to get caught up and lose perspective when everyone wants to be down, hang out and chill. 

nude pictures Greg had taken of himself in a mirror were leaked in January 2010.

After those pictures hit the Internet, Greg says he locked himself in his house for three straight days until Portland personnel knocked on his door and essentially dragged him to the gym for rehab. Going forward, he found it difficult to show his face in public, assuming everyone was thinking about the pictures and laughing to themselves.

“I wish it wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “But I’m not going to apologize for it. After all, I’m human and there are worse things that 21-year-olds could do. I just got caught up with women throwing themselves at me. When a girl sends me 100 pictures, I have to send something back every now and then. I’m not an asshole.”

Titus also made a note that, “According to (Oden), numerous porn companies called his agent and made offers after they saw the pictures.” 

Jill Says: That was one of my first national stories. I sort of get why the porn companies were hollering at him. I also understand why he sent photos back. Unfortunately, he trusted the wrong one that time. It could’ve been worst. Key rule to the flick game. Make sure you a. only send photos of your :ahem: naughty bits, no face or identifying marks and b. Make sure it’s with someone who has just as much to lose. If you’re interested in that post, go HERE

Oden plans to take the 2012-2012 season away from the NBA and focus on getting healthy so he can at some point return to the NBA court. But on the chance that it doesn’t work out, Oden is as peace with it.

I’d just have to accept it,” Greg said. “I’m at peace with everything. I want more than anything to be able to play again. But if I can’t, I’ll still have a decent life. Getting cut (by Portland) kind of put everything into perspective. There’s more to life than basketball, and at some point it’s going to end anyway. I’m going to do what I can to get back on the court, but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll find something else to do and have a normal life.”

He’s 24 years old and a multi-millionaire. Why not try.