Ron Artest Using His Celebrity to Stress Mental Health Care

April 13, 2011
Sean Johnson

Sometimes one incident can define a person's legacy. Other times, people find ways to redefine their legacy.

Sometimes one incident can define a person’s legacy, especially when it comes to sports. That is certainly the case for Ron Artest, whose name is synonymous with an incident known as the “Malice at the Palace.” Without going into too much detail for those who are not avid sports or basketball fans, it was an ugly incident in 2004 in which Artest jumped into the stands and physically attacked a fan who threw a soda at him. It was a bad situation all around, and the sheer brutality of the attack was something that certainly left an indelible impression on those that saw the video footage.

As expected, the event damaged Artest’s reputation, and the aftermath resulted in him getting suspended for the remainder of the season, a total of 86 games (including playoffs). Artest served his suspension, paid fines and lost approximately $5 million in salary, served community service, and attended anger management sessions. He eventually returned to the NBA and still plays today, although now he is a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. But rather than let the ugly brawl define his career, he is using the incident to redefine his legacy by raising awareness about the importance of mental health.

Artest recently caught up with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta to discuss how people need better access to mental health care (see video below). Artest is also up for a citizenship award for his work in “in raising awareness for mental health issues which included him raffling off his 2010 championship ring to amass more than $650,000 that was distributed to various mental health charities.” He could have easily blamed some fans for their inexcusable behavior that day in Detroit and forgotten about the brawl altogether, but instead, he now uses his free time to act as an example of what not to do in such a contentious situation. He relays his experience to today’s youth in hopes that he can act as a cautionary tale for those who may have anger problems. It’s an unexpected and pleasant turnaround for Artest, and it is going a long way in redefining his legacy.

Around the Web

Ron Artest up for citizenship award [ESPN]

Human Factor: Ron Artest says, 'I'm an example' [CNN]