In this continuing conversation with Mike “Zappy” Zapolin, we discuss his second feature-length film Lamar Odom Reborn, which will document the basketball superstar’s journey out of addiction and depression with the help of ketamine and ibogaine.
Thanks again for speaking with us, Zappy. After the success of The Reality of Truth, are you working on any new films?
I’m about to put out my second movie which is called Lamar Odom Reborn. Basically, I gave Lamar a psychedelic intervention over the last two years and filmed it.
Wow! Tell me more about how that came about.
The story is that somebody was at a screening of The Reality of Truth and they came up to me after and said, “Hey, I’m friends with Lamar Odom, and he’s in a pretty dark place. Do you think your plant medicine could help him? Would you be willing to talk to him about it?” And I said “Yeah absolutely.”
I spoke with Lamar and invited him to come down to Florida where my partner in The Ketamine Fund, Warren Gumpel and I have a relationship with some doctors who provide ketamine therapy. I said, “Lamar, come do ketamine in the doctor’s office, and go inside your mind” because he had always been searching for happiness and fulfillment outside of himself. And he’d gotten a lot of it—millions of people cheering for him, and all kinds of accolades and television coverage. If external fulfilment was going to be found, he would have found it there. But he kept searching outside of himself, and he’d never gone inside his own mind.
I realized some cultural biases were at play too. Lamar told me, “Look, I’ve been told these psychedelics don’t help anything, that it’s white people’s medicine, and if something happens and you freak out, the cops could shoot you, or you could be put in a mental institution.” I had never realized that there is this whole cultural element at play.
So he came down and did the ketamine, went inward, and as you see in the movie, he had an incredible experience. He says he’d never felt that happy inside, so he continued on and did a few more treatments. Once he was sort of stabilized and comfortable with the fact that the answers were inside, I said, “I’d like to take you down to Mexico and give you an ibogaine treatment. It’s an African root that has been known to break addiction very successfully.” I said “Lamar, you’re an African American, this is an African root, and you’re probably supposed to have access to this incredible plant, but you’ve been cut off culturally from it.” And so he said, “I trust you Zappy. I’ve had really good experiences with ketamine, and I’m willing to take the deepest dive possible.”
And so we went down there and did a private ibogaine treatment for him with doctors and medical staff and guides, and it was a great experience. Afterwards he was a different human being. He had mental breakthroughs, he had a physical reboot, and he felt so good that when we were driving in the van back to LA he said, “You know what? I feel so good mentally and physically, I think I can make a comeback in professional basketball.” We were really taken aback. His trainer and bodyguard was in the car with us and he said, “Take it easy Lamar, let’s not get carried away. You’d have to train for four hours a day, you can’t be smoking weed…” and Lamar was like, “I know what I gotta do, I’m doing it. I’m making this comeback.”
Three or four months later, he came back in his first professional basketball game. It was a tournament in Dubai, and he played for the Philippine national team. Lamar had been through so much—his doctor said he may never walk again, he had 12 strokes, 6 heart attacks, kidney failure, liver damage… so to see this guy back on the court was amazing.
He also reconnected with his family. He has a much stronger connection with his kids, and he even reached out to his estranged father who’s been on methadone for decades, and brought him to do ketamine treatment in New York. It was amazing to see father and son getting healing from what Lamar had been through. Lamar’s ex wife and his children have come and done ketamine too; it’s just a total transformation. He got engaged recently, he’s working out really hard, he’s clean, and it’s just really cool.
We’re living in this sort of celebrity-tripping culture, and a lot of people—tens of millions, really—feel like they know Lamar and have been through his whole journey. So then to see him transform and to see that he’s vibrating really strongly at his true frequency, is I think an indication to everybody that, “Hey, I gotta consider ketamine for myself or somebody around me that’s depressed or has anxiety. I should consider this ibogaine if addiction is part of my profile, or a family member has that problem and nothing else is working.”
Hopefully where The Reality of Truth sheds light on ayahuasca and San Pedro, Lamar Odom Reborn is going to shed light on ketamine and ibogaine. We’re totally psyched to bring this out and have people see Lamar go through this process, just like they got to see Michelle Rodriguez go through her transformation in The Reality of Truth.
We just finished the film a couple of weeks ago, and our Executive Producers Jeff Beacher and Jason Bergh are talking with all the networks about where to distribute it. We definitely think this is going to be a cultural phenomenon. You get to be a fly on the wall in Lamar’s process and throughout the psychedelic intervention. He is an amazing subject, just like Michelle was in The Reality of Truth—very real, great at communicating what’s happening within him, and open enough to let me film him doing his first psychedelic experiences and going as deep as he can possibly go. He’s an American treasure, that he would open himself up to this and to share so openly what he’s going through and how he’s trying to heal… It is just amazing.
That’s incredible. I was just watching a video of Lamar the other day where he was responding to Kobe’s untimely death. It really struck me just how present he was—he was extraordinarily grounded, authentic and articulate, which you pretty much never see on network television.
Wow, I love to hear that. It gives you a different perspective on life and death, fame and fortune, all that kinda stuff. At one point in the film, during the most intense point of his ibogaine session, he said he wanted to just start screaming and tell the doctor to make it stop. But then he says, “Wait a minute, chill. This is like Kobe Bryant, 4th quarter, we got this.” He just put himself in that state and rode through it. Kobe must have had some incredible energy to inspire Lamar during the deepest part of his ibogaine experience, to be able to support him in those depths. It was very cool.
We are very grateful to Zappy for sharing his time with us. To stay posted about Lamar Odom Reborn, visit the film’s website here.