It took 11 years for Ron Artest to win his first NBA championship ring. So what’s he going to do with it?
Sell it. For charity.
Artest said Wednesday he plans to auction the ring for the benefit of a mental health charity, according to NBA.com.
"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," the Lakers forward told the website. "What’s better than that? For me, this is very important."
There have been jokes about Artest’s sanity for years, some not so funny after he was suspended for 73 games after going into the stands during a brawl in 2004.
But he has recently embraced the role of spokesman for mental health awareness. He thanked his psychiatrist on national television immediately after winning the championship in June. He is scheduled to visit a middle school Thursday near Los Angeles to call for passage of the Mental Health in Schools Act.
He told NBA.com he will release details soon about a worldwide auction for his ring to help put more psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists in schools.
"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," Artest told the website. "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?"