There’s really only one word that comes to mind after reading about Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest’s latest venture in the world of mental health advocacy.
Artest is no stranger to mental health advocacy. In case you need a little back story, back in June 2010 Artest gained some publicity for publicly thanking his therapist during an impromptu interview after the Lakers won the 2010 NBA Championship.
Later, Artest (along with Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, the co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus and author of the Mental Health in Schools Act) spoke at a Los Angeles middle school to help push for the passage of legislation and to encourage students to reach out for help if they need to.
Then, in September 2010, the NBA champ announced he was auctioning off his championship ring to raise money to help “put more psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in schools.”
Now, according to ESPN (and this is the wow-worthy part, folks), Artest plans to donate “either all or some” of his 2011-12 salary to mental health awareness charities.
Given Artest is contracted to make $6.79 million next season alone, that’s a lot of freaking money.
His family is completely behind the decision.
“We lost $7 million before,” Artest said, alluding to the money he lost while he was suspended for 73 regular-season games and 13 playoff games following the incident when he went into the stands in Detroit. “At least [this time] it’s going to something good.”
Although it seems like Artest didn’t get involved in mental health advocacy until this year, the NBA star actually has been involved since he was with the Sacramento Kings. Using YouTube, he organized free group counseling sessions for youths with the hopes that children could benefit from understanding that there are others out there dealing with the same kinds of issues.
Anybody going through problems, they could identify their problems with any individual kid and be like, ‘Wow, I’m going through what he’s going through.’ When you’re weak mentally, there’s nothing a kid can do when he’s not strong yet or she’s not strong yet.
Artest will announce his donation amount July 1.
Until then, you still have until 11 a.m. EST December 25 to enter to win his 2010 NBA Championship ring. You can do so via Artest’s “Win My Bling” Raffle page on the Celebrities for Charity Foundation’s website.
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