The amazing part is of this is not that Ron Artest won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.
The amazing part is he deserved it.
Ron Artest — he of the halftime Hennessy drinks, the dog abuse, the Malice at the Palace — has latched on to the cause of promoting mental health and made it his own with the passion he did all those other things before.
He sat on the podium after winning an NBA title and thanked his therapist for helping him get to this point. He from there has taken a number of steps to try and remove some of the stigma from people — particularly youth — from getting mental help.
That included raffling off his prized championship ring to raise money for the cause, donating part of his salary and going before congress to talk about legislation that would make it easier for youth to get mental health services.
“Ron has such a passion for the issue, and has demonstrated such leadership he was a perfect choice for such a prestigious award,” said Doug Smith of the Toronto Star and president of the Professional Basketball Writers Association. “His work embodies the kind of dedication to important causes that NBA players have become known for.”
The 2005 version of me would be stunned by this. But the 2011 version loves it and thinks it fantastic.
And well deserved.