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Ron Artest to tout Mental Health in Schools Act in Washington

February 17, 2011 |  8:00 am


Advocating for mental health has produced all kinds of trickle effects for Ron Artest.

His visit last fall to Eastmont Intermediate School to speak about mental health issues led to him being awarded the keys to the city of Las Vegas in recognition of his charitable efforts and public service announcement. His decision to raffle off his championship ring raised over $600,000 for charities. And his willingness to speak out on the issue earns him an appearance Thursday in Washington, where he will be highlighting, on behalf of Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (D-Norwalk), the merits of the proposed Mental Health in Schools Act, which would provide $200 million in funding.

The timing of Artest's appearance isn't exactly perfect, considering the Lakers' 104-99 loss Wednesday to the league's worst team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which he went zero for one from the field in only 17 minutes of play. It also doesn't jibe well with the ongoing concern that Artest is stretching himself too thin and has mixed priorities, the latest being his tweet half an hour after the game to promote his new mixtape. But in fairness, the Washington appearance was set up a while ago and it falls on All-Star weekend.

I've applauded Artest's efforts on this issue, and his inconsistent performance isn't going to make me think otherwise. But he should be mindful that he built a platform to speak out on this issue because of the Lakers' championship run. So even if he has the right intentions for a worthy cause, ensuring a more consistent performances after the All-Star break will put him in the best position to continue this advocacy.

-- Mark Medina

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Photo: Ron Artest is introduced at Eastmont Intermediate School, where he spoke to students about the mental health issues he has dealt with since age 13. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times