Lamar Odom is walking away with a valuable lesson and a lifelong friend after he and pro partner Peta Murgatroyd were eliminated during Monday's live Dancing With the Stars episode. After the pair's Viennese Waltz to Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose" earned them a 20/40 from judges Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and guest judge Leah Remini, Odom told PEOPLE he wasn't counting his loss as an overall failure.
“I’m a fighter. I never quit,” he told the outlet after the heartbreaking elimination. “And I tried something new. I failed but … I learned something new about myself. It was humbling. It was humbling.”
His bond with Murgatroyd will be one of the greatest parts of the experience he will walk away with, the former NBA player noted.
“She’s an amazing teacher,” Odom, 39, said of his pro partner. “She’s like the Kobe Bryant of ballroom dances. She has two championships."
It goes far deeper than dance between the two, however. "I made a family member,” Odom said of his relationship with the two-time Mirrorball winner. “So, I have a sister. I never had a sister before.”
Odom and Murgatroyd, 33, were the third couple to go home on Dancing With the Stars Season 28 and the second to be eliminated. The Supremes’ Mary Wilson and pro dancer Brandon Armstrong were sent home during the first elimination, and former athlete Ray Lewis and Cheryl Burke dropped out in the second week due to a foot injury on the part of the NFL player.
Odom isn't taking the low scores and being sent home after his Viennese Waltz to heart, however.
“It’s funny because I think this was my best dance,” he said. “No hard feelings. I’ll keep keeping on.”
There's no end to the possibilities for Odom as he prepares for life post-DWTS.
“Maybe just go celebrate my book, focus on my children, maybe vacation,” he said, only shooting down a return to the NBA. “I have some free time on my hands; maybe I can focus on my public speaking? Change some lives with my story.”
Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo credit: ABC/Craig Sjodin