LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Tonight’s game between the L.A. Kings and the Boston Bruins began with an honor for the South Bay’s John Odom, who’s inspiring story of survival brought the crowd to its feet.
Wearing his Kings jersey, and using his cane just in case, Odom took the ice before a packed house at the Staples Center.
“The feeling unbelievable – not only for the Kings… but to hear all of Los Angeles screaming, yelling for me, made me feel proud to be here,” Odom said.
His wife, Karen Odom, was in tears.
“I was supposed to take pictures… and I was so engrossed in the moment I forgot to take the photos,” she said.
It’s been nine months since Odom was struck during the bomb explosions at the Boston Marathon.
He’d been in the crowd watching for his daughter when the shrapnel tore through his legs, leaving him unconscious for three weeks and his family wondering if he’d pull through.
After months of rehab, Odom came back home to the South Bay. He’s still in physical therapy three times a week but officially retired from his construction firm on New Year’s Day.
“I’m able to lift my leg up. I’m walking – I carry a cane – but I’m walking without the cane now,” he said.
Normally the hero honor is reserved for military, police and fire, but this is the first time a civilian has been honored, according to AEG Sports spokesperson Kelly Cheeseman.
“When we found out about the tragedy we wanted to do whatever we could. It worked out that it happened to be on the Boston game,” he said.
This year’s Boston Marathon is now 100 days away, and Odom says he’s going back to visit with hospital staffers and see his physical therapist run in his honor.
“We want to go back and support her… we’re looking forward to it,” he said.
Odom helped to build the Staples Center in the late 90’s. His firm was the mechanical contractor.