Mental illness is starting to come out of the shadows for professional athletes, as more and more well-known players and Olympians have come forward to talk about their struggles.
The latest is former Laker Metta World Peace (aka Ron Artest), who famously thanked his psychotherapist during the 2010 Lakers championship celebration. His journey will be portrayed in the Showtime documentary Quiet Storm:The Ron Artest Story,” airing May 31 on the network.
Artest had anger management issues. He will always be known for a scary incident In 2004, when, playing for the Indiana Pacers, he entered the stands and fought a fan after someone lobbed a soda at him. The so-called “Malice at the Palace” brawl led to an 86-game suspension, $5 million fine, and almost cost him his career.
“I just don’t think people know the whole story,” World Peace told the NY Post in an interview. “The reason I was how I was is because things that happened in my life.”
Artest grew up in a housing project plagued by drug dealing in the height of the crack era. His parents divorced when he was 13 and the family apartment was destroyed by a fire.
Several teams tried to get him help for his problems, he claims. But “In 1999, you weren’t trying to go out and say, ‘Hey, I am seeing a therapist,’ ” he said. “I was such a big talent. Usually people who have antics like myself, they just get rid of them.”
The documentary features interviews with Kobe Bryant and other former World Peace teammates. The subject claims he’s yet to see it, but won’t stress about any negative portrayals. “I don’t have much to be stressed out about these days.”