Ron Artest received the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for the 2010-11 season. This award honors the NBA player or coach for outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Those two sentences right there illustrates just how far Ron-Ron has come. I plainly remember the days when Artest was labeled the “Bad Boy of the NBA.” In the early days of his career Ron Artest admitted to drinking Hennessey during halftime while he played for the Chicago Bulls and who can forget the infamous brawl he was involved in while he played for the Indiana Pacers. That brawl with the Pistons consequently led to Artest being suspended without pay for the rest of that season. Artest is no stranger to suspension though. He’s been suspended for everything from destroying televisions at Madison Square Garden to having a confrontation with former Miami Heat coach Pat Riley.
I bring all of that up not to shine bad light on Artest’s past, but to show how much he has grown. Artest has gone from being bad boy of the league to a champion for mental health. He appeared in a Public Service Announcement in 2010 where he admitted to getting help with his mental health issues. He has also appeared before congress in support of mental health in schools and also raffled off his 2010 championship ring to help bring awareness to mental health.
Other finalist for this award included Dwight Howard, Marcus Camby and Kyle Korver. While I’m sure all of them have greatly impacted their communities Ron Artest is definitely deserving of this award.