Just six years ago now, Ron Artest was back in the hood; he was in Auburn Hills, MI, instead of his old NY city projects, but he was still at the bottom of his career. On November 19, 2004 the infamous Pacers-Pistons Brawl occurred.
With less than a minuet left in the game, a fight broke out between the players. The crowd went crazy. A fan had decided to throw a beer at Ron Artest. This led to an even worse situation when Artest decided to jump into the stand to fight the fan.
Nine players were suspended, including Artest, and the fan was banned from attending anymore Pistons home games.
At this point in Artest's life, he had nothing to live for. He had been suspended from the NBA for a full season and his reputation hit an all time low.
I can't imagine how the man must have felt at the time. Artest had already been through enough. Growing up in a rough neighborhood surrounded by violence and drugs and on top of that, Artest had nobody in his life to truly depend on, someone to go to in times of need. Basketball was the only thing that was keeping him going.
Then last year, Ron Artest somehow revived his career in the 2008-2009 season. His defense was back, and he was leading his team, the Houston Rockets to the NBA Playoffs. There, Artest met yet another obstacle in his life: Kobe Bryant. Though he had accomplished a lot as an NBA player, he was still missing something, a championship, and he could not overcome Kobe Bryant to reach his ultimate goal. So he decided to join the man whom he could not defeat.
Today must have been Artest's best moment, his "happy ending" as you will. Artest finally became a champion, helping his one-time nemesis Kobe Bryant inch that much closer to the great MJ.
I mean without him, today's game could have easily gone Boston's way. Artest had 20 (PTS), 5 crucial (STLS), and 5 (REBS). None bigger than the three point bomb he hit after Wallace had hit his own three. The biggest story may have been his leadership today. While Kobe was struggling, Artest used his desire and will to win to fuel his team, and this led to his first NBA Championship Title, the Laker's 16th.
I don't know how the man does it. There are moments during the game where your jaws drop to some of the steals and defensive plays he creates. He has arguably one of the best "hands" in the game today, even at his age.
It is a slight miracle that Artest made it through the entire season without getting in any sort of trouble. I guess an NBA Championship can change a man's perspective on life.
But seriously, Ron Artest has truly made yet another huge comeback not only in his career but in his life. From the hood to an NBA Championship. Welcome to the top of Beverley Hills, you have come a long way, Ron Ron.
"I would like to thank the people in my hood."-Ron Artest
He even went on to thank his doctor and his psychiatrist for his success.
A millionaire, a champion finally, Artest never forgets where he came from. He thanked his past for his future. What a humble man.
My dad and I always say that Artest may be a man among boys during the game but at the end of the day, he really is just a kid at heart.
Ron Artest, I am really happy for you, and I will never forget your great performance tonight. You really showed heart and determination to win this series not only for the people of the LA but for the sake of your well being. Keep behaving and continue to become a better man.
"From the Palace of Auburn Hill's November 19, 2004 to the top of Beverley Hill's June 17, 2010", what an incredible roller coaster ride. Thanks for letting me tag along.