Metta Sandiford-Artest on why he changed his name in 2011

One of the more curious signings in Los Angeles Lakers history came in the summer of 2009 when the man then known as Ron Artest agreed to sign a five-year deal with them.

He was essentially replacing Trevor Ariza, who left because his agent demanded more money than they were willing and able to pay him. At the time, he had a reputation as a hoodlum who had anger management problems, but Kobe Bryant and head coach Phil Jackson saw him as nothing more than a misunderstood soul who could help the team.

The 6-foot-7 forward was one of the NBA’s outstanding two-way players who could score 15-20 points nightly while locking down the other team’s best player. He accepted a lesser role offensively and helped L.A. defeat the Boston Celtics in seven games to win its second straight world championship.

In 2011, he changed his legal name to Metta World Peace. According to a 2011 Los Angeles Times report, the first name Metta “is a Buddhist term that means loving kindness and friendliness toward others.”

“Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world,” he said in a statement. “I’m glad that it is now official.”

While doing an interview on “The LADE Show with Lamar Odom,” the former Defensive Player of the Year explained what led to the name change (h/t Lakers Nation).

“So I was going through a lot, honestly, and then I also submitted to being a role player, because I knew I was gonna be here for the next couple years and I wasn’t gonna get better when my contract was up. So I submitted to I was just gonna be a role player for the remainder. I thought we would get to the finals a couple more times, honestly. So that part was cool and I started to become more content and I wanted to just do something else in my life. I felt like the narrative people set, I had to fight against that. So I’m taking on people I don’t know, I can’t see them because behind closed doors, you don’t know what people say. So I was trying to do something else impactful, a little business. So I said I need to move my messaging away and move my own internal self towards my trajectory where I want to go with my life. Not the narrative that people have or why they won’t want me on their television show, you know what I’m saying? ‘Come on my show and act a fool!’ Like, nah. I want to have impact. Where we come from, we got to inspire these people behind us so it was the whole thing like getting off channel one which was entertainment or whatever it is, to let’s call it channel two, which is social impact. Just trying to be there for people because we need it. I didn’t have it at certain points, me and Lamar grew up similar, and that was it. I needed to find some type of calmness because it wasn’t. And then being with Phil, you start meditating and you start doing all this stuff and I was like dang, I was already getting into Buddhism. I was doing therapy that whole time. So when you combine that at, it’s almost like you want to be like Phil. And then you win a championship with being calm, like they say Ron Artest is a gift and a curse, he needs that energy to win, but that energy is getting people in trouble. I don’t want that energy to win. I want to play focused. In that year 2010 with Phil, that had a lot to do with just staying focused on that type of energy. I fell in love with that season, really mostly that. Meditation was incredible.”

In 2020, he changed his name yet again, this time to Metta Sandiford-Artest. He has certainly come a long way from the days when he was known as Ron Artest.

Sandiford-Artest did an amazing job overcoming his personal demons during his debut season with the Lakers. He has done admirable work in the area of mental health awareness, and by the time he retired from the NBA as a player in 2017, he had become one of the league’s more remarkable turnaround stories.

Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire