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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Remembering the Day When Ron Artest Thanked His Therapist After Game Seven of the 2010 NBA Finals

After the L.A. Lakers won game seven of the 2010 NBA Finals over the Boston Celtics to capture their second title in a row, Ron Artest conducted a free flowing post-game press conference. He candidly admitted that the pressure of a close game could negatively affect him and he thanked his therapist for teaching him how to relax in such situations: "Usually I am not good at these moments and I know that about myself. So, what do I do to be good at these moments? Figure it out. I needed some type of way to relax during these moments...I just trusted everything that she told me as far as relaxing and, bam, the big three goes in." There should not be a stigma about seeking help from a therapist and Artest's willingness to be open about his struggles hopefully provides strength to other people facing similar struggles.

How is Artest doing now? Shaun Powell's article Ron Artest finds peace amid mental health journey
provides some answers. Powell begins, "What about the demons? Well, they never really left him. They hibernate and lurk and stay on standby. Lord, how those demons created a mess for him. At times they nearly stole his soul, although it is the now-retired Artest who is winning that war. He's moving forward--triumphantly and surprisingly so, you soon learn--while never too embarrassed or hesitant to survey what he left behind."

Artest is candid about some of his past behaviors/misbehaviors: "Showing up to practice and disrupting practice, showing up a coach or a teammate, just going over the line. There's a lot of things I wish I had done differently. But maybe I couldn't at that time. I felt trapped."

Artest's battles with anxiety and depression began during his tumultuous childhood: "I always had anger issues because that's all I grew up around, anger. I also had love and that's why people see two sides from me. I saw my parents happy and mad. I grew up with friends who were happy and the next moment guns were firing. As a kid it was unbalanced and confusing. There was never a chance to relax. It was just get up and see what's going to happen today. I might have a good day. I might wake up on the other side of the bed. I was suspended in nursery school, kindergarten, first through 12th grade every year for fighting. In college I got in trouble and in the NBA I was in trouble for something or another every year except my last year."

A domestic violence conviction in 2007 forced Artest to seek the counseling that he had long needed, and he has been in counseling ever since. Artest recalls, "I was the best two-way player in the league at 24. I was also spiraling downward emotionally. My emotions were eating away at my skills. Like a parasite eating away at your body. It was eating away at my skill and my work habits and my mental focus and my discipline. Before I got into the brawl I wanted to retire. I requested papers to file to the NBA. I knew something was terribly wrong and nobody really knew. The league called and asked if I really wanted to do this. I needed time away because I couldn't get a hold of myself. There were so many things bothering me, so many things I couldn't handle: Taking care of so many people, wanting to have fun, not being a loyal partner with my now ex-wife … I said, 'OK, I need a break. I need to put my life in order.' I didn't go through with retirement but I wish I did. It wasn't about the money. I was going crazy by 2008."

It is a fallacy to assume that money, fame and popularity insulate a person from the effects of mental illness; if anything, those three things can both exacerbate and cover up deep-seated issues.

Artest put his money where his mouth is: he donated his 2010 championship ring, with the raffle proceeds of $651,000 earmarked for mental health charities. He also helped put his brother through law school and he set up a division in his company to help athletes with tax preparation.

If all you think about when you hear the name Ron Artest is the "Malice at the Palace" brawl, then you have missed the point. Artest is an example of what can happen when a person acknowledges mistakes, seeks help and strives to become a better person.

For information about finding a therapist near you, go to BetterHelp.

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posted by David Friedman @ 7:23 PM



At Tuesday, February 12, 2019 3:26:00 AM, Blogger Jordan said...

Thank you for highlighting an NBA story that matters. And for giving a shoutout to all the therapists out there. Always thought therapy was taboo. Today, I don't know how I managed life without it. Therapy has helped me fend off some terrible habits and talk through some dark times. It's amazing the power someone listening to you has. My therapist specifically, has listened to me through issues with my father, addictions, marriage, family, work, my daughter. I don't have an NBA ring to give up, but I am truly thankful for my therapist.

Meta's come a long way across a lot of time and effort.

His is a vital and amazing redemption story.

At Tuesday, February 12, 2019 12:57:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You’re welcome. I remember some NFL player taunting Cris Carter about Carter’s previous challenges and Carter replying, “Every good man I know has been through SOMETHING!”

I commend Artest and anyone who faces such challenges head-on, because that takes a lot of courage.


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