Eccentric forward Metta World Peace was once one of the most reviled players in the NBA — back when he was Ron Artest — a volatile force prone to violent outbursts. During his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, however, MWP developed into something much more positive, an activist capable of raising large sums of money for mental health charities and bringing needed attention to important causes.
Now, the newest New York Knick has shifted his focus to helping pets. In a new video for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, World Peace speaks about his lifelong love of animals, the importance of learning proper care for pets, and how to help animals in danger.
He's also part of a new billboard campaign displayed on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles (via MWP's website), which you can see in a photo after the jump.
MettaWorldPeace.com explains the importance of the campaign:
The new campaign, which comes as summer temperatures are skyrocketing, includes an appeal from Metta for everyone to recognize that leaving dogs in hot cars—even in the shade with the windows open a crack—is abuse. He also urges people who see a dog in a hot car never to leave the area until the animal is safe. "It's basic love that animals bring to your household," he says in an exclusive video for PETA. "It's something that only animals can do."
Anyone with basic familiarity with modern image management knows that MWP gets more out of these various charitable endeavors than just helping others. They also give him a new face to a public that once rejected him, presenting himself as a warmhearted person. It's not as if World Peace only does good — he also stars in Lifetime movies, appears on "Dancing with the Stars," and hocks cell-phone watches. To a certain extent, he just seems to enjoy being a celebrity in whichever form that takes, from charitable work to doing goofy TV.
But that doesn't mean he's not also serious about his charity work, and the commitment he displays suggests he sees it as something of a calling. After years of these efforts, it's no longer merely helping his image. He's an asset for these causes, as well. They're lucky to have him.