Basketball player Lamar Odom will be the national spokesman for the upcoming Life Insurance Awareness Month campaign.

The Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE), Arlington, Va., picked Odom, who plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, in part because he has first-hand knowledge of the value of life insurance benefits.

Odom grew up in New York. His mother, Cathy, was single and worked as a corrections officer. She paid for life insurance. She died of colon cancer when Odom was 12.

Because Odom’s mother had owned life insurance, Odom was able to stay in the Catholic school he had been attending.

Life insurance also gave Odom the financial stability to be able to choose to attend college rather than turning pro immediately after high school, according to LIFE.

“I’m sure my mom didn’t think she would die at age 35, but that didn’t stop her from doing the responsible thing and buying life insurance,” Odom says in a statement. “When I began my pro career, one of the first things I did was buy life insurance to make sure that my loved ones would always be taken care of.”

The awareness month campaign will take place in September, and LIFE will start telling Odom’s life story in TV and radio public service announcements in August.

- Allison Bell

Other Life Insurance Awareness Month campaign coverage from National Underwriter Life & Health: