By: Taren Vaughan
Mental illnesses affect the lives of many people on a day to day basis. They can have a huge impact on how an individual interacts with others and how they function in certain settings. It can even get to the point where playing their favorite sport can be a hassle. One NBA player knows about this firsthand as he himself has gone through some tough times on the basketball court, battling his long existing mental illness. And he is now taking it upon himself to make the world more aware of how important one’s mental health really is.
LA Lakers Ron Artest has made a name for himself in the NBA as a “wild child”. Aside from the normal technical fouls that players rack up here and there, Artest’s court behavior at one point escalated into much more than just a hard foul against an opponent. During his time as an Indiana Pacer, he got into an altercation that started out between him and then Detroit Pistons center Ben Wallace. That doesn’t seem too harmless as that type of thing happens often when competitive athletes go head to head. True as that is, Artest took his aggression out on an unsuspecting fan in the stands:
Now granted, the fan was dead wrong for throwing the drink on Artest. There is no argument there. But the way he reacted to it was totally inappropriate and cost him money and game suspensions. Not to mention that the fan that he attacked was not even the one that alleged threw it to begin with. After seeing this all out brawl on national television, the first thought in people’s minds was that Ron Artest was a complete mad man. But little did many of us know that he has issues with his mental health. And he is taking the time out to spread awareness by participating in a fundraiser.
Not only is Ron Artest devoting his time to this worthy cause. He is also giving up one of his most prized possessions for it. And no, it’s not a million dollar check. But it is the one thing that all NBA players strive to get: a championship ring. Artest is willing to auction off his championship ring from this past season to help with the mental illness fundraiser. Mind you, this is the only ring that Artest has gotten throughout his 11 years in the league. So the fact that he is going to give it up says a lot about his dedication to the cause.
Although Ron Artest has had a shaky behavioral past, he has made a conscious effort to do better with keeping his composure both on and off the court. And becoming a member of the Lakers seems to have helped in improving that significantly. Guess Phil Jackson’s mild demeanor has rubbed off on him. When the topic of health comes into conversation, many people only think of the things that affect your body physically. Eating right and staying in shape to keep your organs functioning properly is the main thing on everyone’s mind. But as important as your physical health is, your mental health is just as important.