World Peace awarded for mental health advocacy
For his efforts in helping mental health charities, Lakers forward Metta World Peace will be presented with a special recognition award Aug. 22 at the 2012 Voice Awards.
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will host the ceremony at Paramount Studios in Hollywood, an event started in 2005 that highlights stories regarding mental illness, substance abuse and how to recover.
That's proven to be an ongoing process for the player formerly known as Ron Artest.
He grew up in a poor neighborhood in Queensbridge, N.Y., in an unstable environment. His parents divorced when he was 13. His dad has been diagnosed as bipolar. World Peace has received counseling for anger, marriage and parenting issues. Plenty of his friends and family members are either in jail or are dead. And his NBA career hit a low in 2004 during the infamous "Malice at the Palace" when, as a member of the Indiana Pacers, he went into the Detroit Pistons crowd and punched a fan for throwing a drink at him. World Peace drew an 86-game suspension.
Since then, World Peace auctioned off his 2010 NBA ring for $651,006 to benefit mental health charities. He testified before Congress on behalf of the Mental Health in Schools Act, which would raise $200 million in grant funding to 200 schools. He appeared in various public service announcements and billboards on behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. Because of those efforts, World Peace won the 2010-11 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Those efforts took a step back when he drew a seven-game suspension last season for elbowing Oklahoma City guard James Harden in the head, causing a concussion. In a recent visit to the Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA, World Peace acknowledged that overcoming his mental health issues remains an ongoing challenge. He frequently sees his psychologist, Dr. Santhi Periasamy, about frustrations regarding his play, media criticism, family life and business interests.
“I’m still learning about myself,” World Peace said at the time. “This actually helps me in telling my story so I can continuously improve myself, stay mentally stronger and not let stuff bother me as much as it used to when I was younger. I still make mistakes.”