Every seasoned celeb is familiar with the concept of damage control. And for LA Lakers defensive player Ron Artest— who was once suspended from 75 games for brawling with fans and had a subsequent series of court-ordered anger management classes— he knows that all too well.
But the 31-year-old just made good by raffling off his 2010 NBA championship ring to benefit the Xcel University charity, which aims to improve mental health issues amongst at-risk youths. It’s an issue that’s near and dear to Artest, as he first shined a spotlight on mental health concerns when he thanked his psychiatrist on national TV. The positive feedback from that revelation led to the charity raffle, an effort which raised more than $500k and will go toward grassroots organizations in NY, Indianapolis, Cleveland, LA and Detroit.
The gold ring up for grabs contains 16 large white diamonds, a piece of the game seven basketball, and a 3D portrait of Artest on the side (very modest). The winner was announced at the Lakers game this weekend, and father of four, Raymond Mikkael, gets to take it home along with an all-expenses paid trip to LA to meet Artest and sit courtside at a Lakers game.
“This was a good thing,” Artest told reporters. “It got publicity, it raised money, and now we can start over. It gives me more energy and desire to go out and win another ring to do this all over again.”
Earlier this year, Artest’s animal rights efforts made him the face of a PETA ad campaign where he teamed up to urge people to spay and neuter their dogs. And it has been said that next on the athlete’s agenda is to donate a large portion of his $6.79 million salary for the 2011-2012 season directly to charity.
“It’s going to make an impact,” he stated. “It will snowball. It will have a domino effect later. It will have a domino effect real, real soon once people see exactly what’s going on.”
It’s a nice way to wrap up the charitable year that Artest has had, and hopefully his efforts to make good will snowball onto his fans.