Rep. Grace F. Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, congratulated Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest for being nominated for the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
The J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, named in honor of the second commissioner of the NBA, is given annually by the National Basketball Association to the player who shows the most outstanding service and dedication to the community.
Artest was nominated for his off-the-court work on behalf of mental health.
“Ron Artest has been a hero for mental health,” Napolitano said. “No one else has been as outspoken about the road to recovery and the importance of seeking assistance.
“He has been a remarkable role model for adults, but his example is especially powerful for the children who look up to him,” Napolitano added. “I hope that others follow.”
Artest opened up to fans and the world after the 2010 championship game when he thanked his psychologist for helping him prepare for the victory. Since that time, he has visited schools to talk about mental health, including trips with Napolitano to Eastmont Intermediate School in Montebello and Los Alisos Middle School in Norwalk.
He also donated his championship ring for a drawing that to benefited mental health and donated funds through his charity Xcel University, and traveled to Washington, D.C., to help Napolitano launch the Mental Health in Schools Act, which would increase available mental health services for children.
“The sad fact is many people still hide away what they are feeling because of the stigma associated with mental health,” Napolitano said. “I hope that Ron continues to reduce this stigma and encourage people to seek help through his actions and his foundation, Xcel University.”
Napolitano is the co-chair of the Congressional Mental Health Caucus.