Metta World Peace Stumps for School Mental Health Bill

By Patrick Burke | February 15, 2013 | 5:54 PM EST

Metta World Peace of the Los Angeles Lakers. (AP photo)

( - Three Democratic congressmen have enlisted the support of professional basketball player Metta World Peace -- formerly named Ron Artest -- for legislation that would provide mental-health resources to schools.

At a Capitol Hill news conference on Friday, World Peace joined Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.), to promote a bill they are sponsoring to give $200 million to as many as 200 schools to provide mental health resources.

The NBA standout spoke of his upbringing and the importance of mental health intervention in his own life.

“When I was a kid I experienced a lot of different things in my environment -- a lot of violence, depression and frustration and it could’ve escalated,” WorldPeace said.

WorldPeace also spoke of when he started seeing a psychologist in high school and college, and when he famously auctioned off his 2010 NBA championship ring to raise money for mental health programs.

“So I’m trying to be a part, be a champion for the congresswoman and everybody else that’s trying to bring to light the importance of early intervention. So hopefully you all recognize the effort that we’re trying to make,” he said.

The Mental Health in Schools Act is intended to assist in early identification of mental illness among children, and help at risk children cope with trauma and violence.

According to the bill summary, the legislation would give federal funds for on-site behavioral health services in schools without charging the family and student.

Napolitano first introduced the bill in February of 2011 -- the month after former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot in Tucson, Ariz. -- but it never came out of committee.

The bill allows for the implementation of ways for children to report violent incidents or plans committed from other children, as well as programs that take into account the cultural and linguistic makeup of schools.

As an NBA player, World Peace has a history of on-court brawling. He is perhaps best known for his role in a 2004 brawl during an Indiana Pacers-Detroit Pistons game in Detroit, Mich., when he charged into the stands and grabbed a fan after being hit with a Diet Coke.

Currently with the Los Angeles Lakers, World Peace received a seven game suspension last year after elbowing an opposing player in the head, giving him a concussion.

In 2010, World Peace announced he would develop and produce his own reality show, “They Call Me Crazy.”