Philly Voice - Those were the nights Andre Odom and his brother Robert would look at each other in their dim bedroom, anxious of what was coming, their hands clenched tight as they braced themselves for what inevitably arrived—a beating.
Whether it was with big, meaty hands, or with a wire or a belt, and whether it was induced by PCP, alcohol, or whatever the drug of choice was at the time, the boys’ father had to take his rage out on someone.
Those someones happened to be his adolescent sons.
Sometime Thursday night, the national TV cameras will pan over to the round table where Kyle Pitts will be sitting with family during the NFL Draft. There’s a chance that the lens might catch a glimpse of Andre Odom — in a flashy Ricky Soto royal blue wool suit with black lining — seated there with Pitts.
A 2003 George Washington High grad, Odom, 34, won’t be thinking about his courageous, traumatic past. He will no doubt have his head down, his ear attached to his phone. He will no doubt be working. He’s the agent, as a representative of powerhouse Athletes First, of certain first-round draft choices Pitts, the former Archbishop Wood star, and Penn State stars Micah Parsons and Jayson Oweh.
Maybe during a brief interlude or sometime after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls the last name of the first round, Odom may recall the self-made journey he took to arrive at the pinnacle of sports on a spring night in Cleveland—and how close he came to never making it.
I flew to Cleveland this morning from Philly and had the pleasure of sitting next to Kyle Pitts' family. Possibly the nicest people I've ever met from Philadelphia (which I realize isn't saying a lot but these folks were delightful).
We got to shooting the shit about Philly, Cleveland, and Florida and along the way telling me about what a stand up guy Kyle is, they mentioned what an impact his friend, and now agent, Andre Odom, has had on his life.
They were singing this guy's praises. Couldn't say enough good things about him. He sounded like either the greatest con-man agent of all time, or the total contradiction of a typical agent.
So I looked him up when I landed and read his story on my way to The Flats from the airport. And holy moly, what a story.
He grew up under a tyrant, addict father, and a mother who was never in his life. He, along with his older brother, suffered nightly beatings that he said "became so routine he wouldn't even feel them after a while".
Traumatizing, heartbreaking stuff.
If it weren't for the football coach at his school noticing handprints around his neck one day, from his father choking him so hard, he says he would have "ended up dead, or his brother would have ended up killing their father to save them."
His coach inquired what happened, and showed concern for a kid who never had anybody show any before, and Andre opened up about what was happening to his brother and him at home. Child services got involved and they eventually went to live with Andre's grandmother.
Says his coach, Ron Cohen, now 77
“I was fortunate to have a lot of great kids who came through here, and I’m so proud of what Andre has done with himself. You see what he’s doing with the players he represents. He tells them what life is about—because he lived it. I’ll never forget the time his father came and made a scene by pulling Andre and Robert out of practice.
“After Andre began living with his grandmother, that never happened again. Andre started fighting back. The problem these young people that come from abusive situations have is they think they did something wrong. They haven’t. Andre was smart enough to know he didn’t do anything wrong—it was his abusive father.”
He would graduate from George Washington High School, and put himself through school at Temple. Living in his car at times because he could barely afford classes and books.
Now, he's thriving.
One of his best friends says of him-
“He shouldn’t be there. The reason why he is there is him. I knew this was destined for Andre. He didn’t let his environment define him. He’s always been too strong for that. The world tried to shut him off at every turn. He had the ability to believe in himself, while standing in a dark tunnel. That’s what makes Andre special.”
He put himself through Temple, sleeping in his car at times because he could barely afford to pay for classes and books. Upon graduating, he enrolled back at Temple for his graduate business degree. He knew that was his ticket out of his nightmare and to help get him to where he saw himself.
After looking for a direction after graduate school, Odom bounced around from working at a bank, to working for a small period of time at WIP. Then he became a graduate assistant at Temple, before working in the personnel department and switching to scouting for the Chicago Bears for three years.
Odom was introduced to the agent business by William Wesley, Odom’s uncle, mentor and confidante. He interned under Wesley for a year. Wesley taught him the fine points of the people business. It was Wesley who opened the door for Odom with mega-agency CAA for three years (2017-19), where he made serious inroads before jumping to Athletes First in 2020 as a certified NFL agent the last two years.
(Sidebar- wait, what? World Wide Wes is Andre's "uncle" as in that guy who takes you under their wing, or grows up best friends with your dad "uncle", or blood-related uncle? If he's blood-related then how the hell do Andre and his brother suffer the way they did growing up? Need some context here)
Awesome story about overcoming crazy adversity. Rooting hard for Kyle Pitts, and Andre Odom and so should everybody. (Unless he goes to Pittsburgh, Baltimore, or the Jets)
p.s.- his family thinks he's going sixth to Miami (scoop city nbd)