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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Ron Artest Gets NBA’s Citizenship Award Seven Years After Brawl With Fans

Ron Artest won this season’s National Basketball Association citizenship award, seven years after running into the stands and starting a brawl with Detroit Pistons’ fans.
Artest received the award from the Professional Basketball Writers Association for his efforts to promote mental-health awareness.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ forward appeared before the U.S. Congress in support of the Mental Health in Schools Act and raised more than $650,000 for the cause by raffling off the championship ring he won last season. He also participated in a public-service announcement in conjunction with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
“Ron has such a passion for the issue, and has demonstrated such leadership he was a perfect choice for such a prestigious award,” PBWA president Doug Smith of the Toronto Star said in a statement.
Artest, 31, has had a series of off-court issues during a 12-year NBA career. Most notable was in 2004, when a shoving match between him and Ben Wallace of the Pistons started a bench-clearing fight near center court at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.
Artest, who was then with the Indiana Pacers, avoided the altercation by lying on the scorer’s table. He then bolted into the crowd to confront a fan after being hit by a cup thrown from the stands, setting off an exchange of punches between players and fans. Artest was banned for the rest of the regular season and playoffs, a total of 73 games.
Artest averaged 8.5 points and 3.3 rebounds this season for the Lakers.
Previous winners of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award -- named for the NBA’s second commissioner -- include Dikembe Mutombo, Chauncey Billups, Steve Nash, Kevin Garnett, David Robinson and Magic Johnson.

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