*Some know him as Ron-Ron, others as Tru Warier, and others believe him to be a deranged bully. But Ron Artest is far more than the definition of any single word.
Almost every celebrity has a deeper, more enlightened side to them, but that enlightened side does not sell newspapers, nor does it get people to tune in to their local nightly news.
On tonight’s (9pm Eastern) episode of TV One’s “Life After,” Ron Artest’s story is told like never before. We see the young man’s passion and fire, and his love for children of all races and backgrounds. But most know him as a hard-nosed basketball player from Queensbridge, New York, the largest housing project in the United States.
“There were a lot of things going on and I just was never interested much. Basketball was just so much more fun for me,” said Artest.
“Queensbridge to me means youth. To me it’s just for kids. There’s no reason for me to ever go back, but I go back to support the kids. Make sure the kids are doing what they’re supposed to do. You don’t have to be a poor kid. You can be a rich kid. A kid is a kid.”
Of course we hear of people talking about going back and “keeping it real” all the time and some actually do for a short period of time, then they gradually begin to distance themselves from their biggest fans until, eventually, their mythic ghetto pass is revoked due to lack of usage. But we don’t think Artest will do that. When the world was at his throat for the Auburn Hills incident in which he was boxing fans, Queensbridge supported him. When he was suspended for 72 games, his career hanging in the balance, Queensbridge was there.
“At that age I was just wild. Just a real wild boy,” said Artest of his early days in the league. “When I went to the Palace at Auburn Hills (for that game), I lost to the Pistons in the playoffs the year before and emotions were high. At the end of the game I fouled Ben Wallace hard and he pushed me and was ejected. Why he was allowed to remain on the court and come at me, I don’t know. I tried to walk away and relax. John Green was a season ticket holder for the Detroit Pistons. When he threw something on me I just snapped.”
Life is full of regrets and after being suspended for the remainder of the season, losing $7 million in the process, Artest’s biggest regret was not playing basketball professionally. After returning to the Indiana Pacers he subsequently asked to be traded. He then landed in Sacramento for a while before ending up with the Houston Rockets.
“After that my career was slowly coming back to what I think it should have been,” said Artest.
While with the Houston Rockets Ron was an integral part of a Rockets team that would frustrate the Kobe Bryant led Lakers considerably before succumbing in the 2009 Western Conference Semifinals. NBA fans remember that Ron Artest would not back down to the Black Mamba, something we’re sure convinced Bryant that he would rather play with Ron Artest than against him.
“I left Houston to come to LA,” Artest explained. “It was unreal that I was a part of something real that was about to go down in history. The chance of playing with Kobe Bryant after being a rival after all these years was great because he is one of the best at what he does and I am one of the best at what I do. It felt like I was in a video game.”
“Life After” has proven itself to be a unique offering amid other shows of its ilk. It not only showcases the bad, but the good. Not only the fall, but the resurrection. What does “Life After” mean to Ron Artest?
“‘Life After’ is watching my kids grow up, making an album that does well. ‘Life After’ means becoming a math teacher, something that I always wanted to do. Life After means coaching the New York Knicks, something else I always wanted to do.”
You can catch Ron-Ron tell his story, in his words, tonight at 9pm Eastern on TV One’ “Life After.”
Watch a preview of Ron Artest’s “Life After” episode: