Artest plans to auction championship ring

Ron Artest of the Los Angeles Lakers is motivated to win another

NBA championship because he plans to auction his ring from last

season’s title to raise money for mental health counseling in

schools.

”I’m still searching for that first ring. I’m not going to have

a ring, and I really do want a ring,” Artest said during a visit

to San Diego to promote an exhibition game against the Golden State

Warriors on Oct. 21. ”This one was on the house. The next one, I

guess, you could say, is on me.”

During an interview after the Lakers clinched the title with a

Game 7 victory over the Boston Celtics in June, Artest thanked his

psychiatrist for helping him relax during the playoffs. He said he

received counseling for a few months when he was 13, but that

funding for the program dried up.

”When I grew up, mental health was something that wasn’t talked

about. People were scared to say they were seeing a psychologist

and stuff like that. Even before the championship I was telling

people I was seeing a psychiatrist. When we won the championship,

it was on a much more larger scale – ‘Wow, he really said that.’

Artest, who’s trying to put his bad-boy image behind him, said

he could simply display his ring in his living room or he could

wear it.

”But I think it’ll be more important to give back to something

I believe in, which is providing kids with someone to talk to

because it’s so expensive. I pay for parenting counseling, marriage

counseling and anger management, and it’s very expensive. This will

be for children of all demographics, rich or poor – preferably the

rich can pay for their own psychologists – but it’ll be a great way

to help kids who don’t know where they’re going in their life at

this point.”

Artest said he’s still looking for a group to partner with.

He said some celebrities and investors have offered him between

$50,000 and $100,000 for the ring. But he wants to have a raffle

auction so fans everywhere will have a chance to end up with it,

with tickets likely going for between $1 and $3.

”The fans are going to totally smash that number,” Artest

said. ”We’re going to help as much as that ring can do. I don’t

know how long it will last, but I know it can help. You don’t

really need the money. It starts in the household anyway. It starts

with the dad and the mom and the family. Make sure the family is

tight. As long as that’s good, I don’t think you’ll even need to

see a psychologist, or you can keep it at a minimum. But nobody’s

perfect. Every family’s not perfect. This is just a way I could

help out, give back a little bit.”

Artest has even helped Rep. Grace Napolitano push for the

passage of the Mental Health in Schools Act, which would provide

funding for schools across the country to set up mental health

programs for students.

As for the Lakers, Artest feels they’ll be better this coming

season. Training camp starts Saturday.

”I still feel like I’ve got a lot to prove,” he said. ”We

really need to come out with a mindset. I’ve got a lot to play for

again this year. I’m going after my first ring.

”We’re hungry. I know I am, as much as anybody else is. And you

know Kobe is. Kobe’s after something, I don’t even know what it is.

I think he’s after stardom on Pluto or something,” Artest said,

taking off on one of his humorous tangents. ”Pluto’s not even a

planet no more, which I’m very disturbed about. I grew up when

Pluto was a planet. Now, I’m 25, I turn around and Pluto’s no

longer a planet. I’m going to elbow that guy in the nose. I love

Pluto. Everybody loves Pluto. There’s a dog named Pluto in the

cartoons. I don’t know how we got on that subject. We’ve got to see

if we can get Pluto back.”