LOS ANGELES – Ron Artest has come up with a way to top Ron Artest.
Before he even gives away his 2010 championship ring in an online raffle to raise funds and increase awareness of mental-health issues in schools, the Lakers small forward is already focusing on another unprecedented donation that would mean millions of dollars and immeasurable attention to the same important cause.
He told NBA.com he is seriously thinking about handing over at least half, and maybe all, of next season’s $6.79 million salary.
“I’m definitely considering the whole thing,” Artest said. “Or maybe 60 percent.”
Although he may not finalize details until the summer, he called the plan “very serious. I’ve talked to my wife about it already. It’s a powerful message. The message is about the inspiration. That’s what I want, to inspire people. People will be like, ‘Wow. Why is he doing this? Oh, that’s why. Wow. We need to help educate.’ I didn’t come [to the Lakers] for the money. Obviously I could have gone somewhere else, even a lesser market. Pay less taxes. The taxes here are freaking killing me, you know what I’m saying?”
Artest said he thought about doing the same thing in 2006-07, his first full season with the Kings, but his manager talked him out of it. Artest said he was prepared at the time to move into an apartment with his family if money became a problem. He did not have a charity in mind then, saying the salary would have gone to college and high school scholarships.
But now, after speaking openly about the positive impact counseling has had in his life, he has a cause a little more than two weeks before the ring will be sold on Christmas day. And a plan.
“I can have it in my head pretty soon,” Artest said of the details. “I’ve been thinking about it for three years. Whether I do it now or in July, it’s very powerful.”