Remember Ron Artest? The Los Angeles Lakers player who, after his team won the 2010 NBA Championship, publicly thanked his psychologist – the woman who “really helped [him] relax a lot”?
Well, it seems Artest is taking his new-found appreciation for mental health professionals a step further.
According to NBA.com, not only did the small forward appear with Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, the co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus and author of the Mental Health in Schools Act, at a Los Angeles middle school a couple of Thursdays ago to “to call for passage of federal legislation and encourage students to reach out to a health-care worker if they need,” but he’s also “planning to sell the championship ring as a fundraiser to put more psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in schools.”
You work so hard to get a ring, and now you have a chance to help more people than just yourself, instead of just satisfying yourself. What’s better than that? For me, this is very important.
Of course, it (especially publicly thanking his psychologist) wasn’t something he entered into lightly. Mental health still carries quite a stigma, and so it’s not surprising Artest hesitated beforehand.
I’m older now, so I think it’s about that time that I stop complaining about what people think about me, because it’s more important than me, you know? That whole thing (after the championship), I was thinking about it, in my brain I’m like, ‘Am I really about to say this? On national TV?’ But then the other part of me was like, ‘It’s bigger than you. It’s bigger than you. It’s more about people that really need to hear this.’
Artest admits that once he made the leap into mental health advocacy, the “backlash” made him start to second guess his decision; that is, until he realized the importance of first-hand experience in such an area:
A lot of people made jokes about it on the Internet. It was kind of funny, though. A lot of people made jokes. ‘Wow, Ron Artest is speaking on a mental-health act.’ I’m like, yeah, that makes a lot of sense. At first, I was a little bit nervous when I first heard it. I was like, ‘OK, here comes some backlash’ and I was going to go hide and say I don’t want to do it. But I’m like, ‘Of course Ron Artest is doing it.’ I’ve been through it first-hand. Who else better than Ron Artest to actually talk about his experiences and how therapy has helped him?
Artest will take possession of the championship ring on October 26, during a pre-game ceremony before the Lakers open against the Houston Rockets, but to date we’re still waiting on the “details of what he hopes will become a worldwide auction.”
In the meantime, you can keep up with Ron Artest at his official website, www.ronartest.com.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Story Credit: Special thanks to my super cool, globe-trotting friend Matt Wakefield for the heads up.