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LA Lakers player to be honored at Voice Awards

August 17, 2012
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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Billboard showing Metta World Peace and a message about seeking help and working towards recovery.

The 2012 Voice Awards, on Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, will recognize leaders in the community, sports, TV and film industries for their efforts in raising awareness about mental health and substance use disorders and the power of recovery. The Voice Awards are hosted by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The awards will call out Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, of the Los Angeles Lakers, and he will receive a Special Recognition Award. In 2004, while he was a member of the Indiana Pacers, he went into the crowd at one of the games and punched a fan in the face for throwing a drink at him. After this incident, he was suspended for 86 games and acknowledged that he had a mental health issue.

According to Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Times, World Peace put his 2010 NBA ring up for auction, and raised $651,006 to donate to mental health charities. He has testified before Congress in regards to the Mental Health in Schools Act. This act, according to GovTrack, was to “amend the Public Health Service Act to revise and extend projects relating to children and violence to provide access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs.” It would raise $200 million in grants that would be distributed to 200 schools.

He has also appeared in various public service announcements and billboards on behalf of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. One billboard reads, “YOU CAN DO IT. Find the hope to seek wellness professionals and promote your own recovery” and also lists a phone number and a website that people can contact to find help.

World Peace has acknowledged that overcoming his mental health issues remains an ongoing challenge. He frequently sees his psychologist, about frustrations regarding his play, media criticism, family life and business interests.

Besides honoring individuals such as World Peace, the Voice Awards also recognize writers and producers of film and television productions that have incorporated respectful and accurate portrayals of people with behavioral health challenges into their work. Some of the finalists for this category include: “Glee” (FOX); Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” (NBC); “Castle” (ABC); and “Parenthood” (NBC).