Artest Wins NBA's Citizenship Award

Ron Artest is recognized for his work with mental health charities

Not all of Ron Artest's assists happen on the basketball court.

The Lakers forward won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his charity work and efforts to raise awarenss of mental health issues.

"I think it's a great recognition," Artest said at a shootaround Tuesday in El Segundo. "It's probably something that was not on people's minds, as far as me getting the Citizenship Award, but it was something that I wanted. I'm definitely happy that I got it."

The Professional Basketball Writer's Association presents the award. It honors outstanding service to the community.

Former Lakers Magic Johnson (1992) and Michael Cooper (1986) also won the award, which has been presented every season since 1974-75.

"It's just giving people the opportunity to have opportunity," Artest said. "If they're not mentally stable, you never know where some people are going to end up. You'll never know what potential they would have had, what goals could have been reached."

In 2004, Artest was a member of the Indiana Pacers when he was involved in a brawl that extended into the stands at the Palace at Auburn Hills. When asked whether he considered the award a "turnaround" for Artest, Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he wasn't surprised.

"I think he's always been a friendly guy," Jackson said. "He goes out to visit schools and kids and using counseling to its best advantage during troubling times for kids in their developmental years."

Artest also raffled off his 2010 NBA championship ring. The raffle raised $650,000 for mental health charities. Artest called the raffle the "greatest thing" he's done in his life "outside of being married and having my kids."

Artest and the Lakers downed New Orleans Tuesday in Game 5 of their playoff series.

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