Listen To Ron-Ron’s Message

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Our favorite Laker is back in the headlines this week, gobbling up his share of the spotlight.

But before you go knocking Ron Artest, know that he’s in the public eye right now for all the right reasons.

Ron-Ron’s well-detailed mental health issues have always been a part of the deal, but only recently has anyone begun to really listen to his message about the gains he’s made in dealing with those issues.

And this isn’t some self-serving pursuit. Artest’s aim is to help others, particularly the children.

HT fave Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times explains:

The Laker who impulsively dyes his hair, tweets his anger and was recently stopped by police while driving what appeared to be a Formula One race car through Los Angeles was speaking to middle schoolers about the importance of mental stability?

“I was like, I don’t think I can do this, this is an important issue and I won’t want to get out the wrong message,” Artest told several hundred young teens. “Then I said, ‘You know what?… Who else better to do this than me?’ “

And so he did it. At the invitation of Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk), who is pushing a bill providing funding for schools to set up mental health programs, Artest stepped back into the punch line of the joke that has haunted him for most of his 30 years.

In torn jeans, tennis shoes, collared shirt, sport coat and vulnerable grin, the wacky one took the stage at his weakest.

I’ve never seen him stronger.

For 20 minutes in an auditorium that was hushed and reverent, the Lakers tough guy bared not his elbows or his fists, but his soul.

Artest talked about being in therapy from the time his parents separated when he was 13 years old. He talked about being counseled for anger issues, marriage issues, parenting issues.

“I’m like, how can a kid in East L.A … get the same help that I got without paying so much?” he said.

Artest embraced every stereotype about him, explained every rip, displayed the sort of courage that goes far beyond staring down Paul Pierce.

“When you think about mental health, you don’t have to be afraid,” he said.

Artest acknowledged the stress of being a father at age 16. He talked about growing up in a family with a history of mental illness. He urged the youngsters to seek out school counselors.

“That doesn’t mean you’re crazy, it just means you have some issues in your life,” he said. “This is a way to be able to talk to somebody about your problems.”

Sometimes he jumbled his thoughts. At one point he stared down for several long minutes at his script. It was funky, but it was perfect, and when he ended the speech by simply waving his hands and saying, “See ya later,” the children roared.

“I don’t know how we got so lucky to be able find Ron,” said Napolitano.

Artest’s only more impressive performance in his first Lakers season was his brilliant Game 7 against the Boston Celtics, after which he made everyone laugh again by publicly thanking “my psychiatrist.”

I’m not laughing now. He has the smarts to mean it. He has the bravery to say it.

A year ago this time no one would have bothered listening to Artest about a topic as serious as this one, or almost anything else for that matter.

It’s always been easy to dismiss him as “crazy” or whatever word folks like to use. But not anymore. He cannot be dismissed anymore, on or off the court.

And Artest deserves kudos for using his championship platform for such a noble pursuit.

So if he wants to change his number (below), sell his championship ring or do just about anything else (legal and within reason), we’re in full support around here.

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6 Comments

  1. [...] Let Ron Artest Be September 19, 2010 Posted by Ti Brown in Uncategorized. trackback Everybody’s a psychoanalyst:  http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2010/09/10/listen-to-ron-rons-message/#comment-36305 [...]

  2. Ti Brown says:

    Everybody’s a psychoanalyst. Let him be. Ron-Ron’s hard to figure out, but so what? He’s just another New Yorker, proud of his unique view and approach to|attack on the world. He ain’t hurting nobody. Watching him at times is actually hilarious. He was so unpredictable in The Finals,, we started calling him Who Knows. Lol. But it was Ron-Ron who got the last laugh, didn’t her? He BLATANLY outplayed Kobe in Game 7 of The Finals and BLATANTLY saved Kobe from “Choke” headlines with his game-saving play.

    As long as Ron-Ron’s not hurting anyone else, let him be. It not our business what he thinks or does.

  3. Alex says:

    you know its funny… the guy has had mental issues, but is still the more sane among us. People who cited the palace incident over and over ad nauseum, and that one situation alone colored him a neg shade to the world for so long. Think of how crazy as a society we are for that type of unilateral consensus and judgement. and to get such a bad rep when it wasnt as if he wasnt attacked by the other team and the fan in the crowd. resposibility for ones actions is key in facing one’s problems. resposibility as a society comes in having the collectively power of reason to understand things specifically and objectively. Good for you Ron…you never had anything to apologize for however

  4. LakersWillWin says:

    What a great guy. WHat an under-rated person. We all make mistakes in our younger years but it does not mean it needs to follow us forever. Ron is proving his greatness. He must really feel strongly about that cause to give up that ring without even touching it… What a great guy Ron.
    What makes this even better is that RonRon isn’t doing this for the publicity or positive spotlight, he is doing it for a cause he truely believes in and wants kids who struggle with issues like himself to be able to find themself at a younger age and maybe not make the same mistakes he did.
    Any Artest “haters” can eat their words now.

  5. Zzanzabar says:

    Redemption: the recovery of what is mortgaged or pledged, by paying the debt. This word sums up Ron Artest at this point in his career. After losing what little of a positive reputation with the ‘brawl in Detroit’, he was all but written off by NBA fans as, at best a flake, and at worse ‘a thug’. Save for those who knew him personally, no one really bothered with the individual behind the name except for what he could temporally do for them on their team.

    Kobe saw what was there because he faced it eye-to-eye and saw the heart of a fierce competitor, one who would not back down. Ron already knew that, yes he had some personal issues, but made efforts to get help in correcting what he considered flaws in his own character (who among us have done the same, honestly?).

    The one thing that Ron seemed to want more than anything was a ‘shot at the title’. He wanted badly to show that he had what it took to make a champion and that he had matured out of the egotistical young man he was and grew into the man and player he is now. So what does he do when he finally achieved the cherished ‘ring of power’ he so wanted?, why he is throwing it back into the flames for a cause that he feels close to his heart! Bravo Ron-Ron, Bravo….

  6. Robert Zenon says:

    You know he is the same guy, if he had not done anything this year, you guys would be ripping, but he’s grown and what would be a shame if people only recognized it because he won a championship with the Lakers. Sure he’s grown over the years, but who hasn’t. He is a different person, thank God for his honesty and candor. Something people dislike unless your a winner. But winners are flawed too, becuase like I said nothing has changed, he just got a ring on his finger now.