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Metta World Peace, formerly Ron Artest, is a professional basketball player known for his fierce defensive play and 2011 name change.
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Born Ronald William Artest on November 13, 1979 in Queens, New York, Metta World Peace was drafted 16th overall in the 1999 NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. He played for a handful of teams thereafter before being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. He legally changed his name to Metta World Peace in 2011.
"Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world."
"I’m accustomed to playing basketball really rough. When I came into the league, I was used to fighting on the court. That’s how I grew up playing basketball."
Born Ronald William Artest on November 17, 1979, Metta World Peace was the oldest of six children growing up in the Queensbridge Houses, New York City’s oldest public housing complex. The area was home to some gang and drug activity, and growing up in this environment set the tone for World Peace early on. He once said, "I’m accustomed to playing basketball really rough. When I came into the league, I was used to fighting on the court. That’s how I grew up playing basketball."
World Peace played high school basketball at La Salle Academy, where he was a McDonald’s All-American, led his team to a 27-0 record, and was New York City’s Co-Player of the Year. In 1997, after fielding offers from several colleges, World Peace decided to attend St. John's University in Queens. In his freshman year, Artest was named to the Big East’s All-Rookie and All-Tournament teams, and the St. John’s Red Storm went 22-10, advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1993.
In 1999, World Peace left college a year early to go pro, and was drafted 16th overall in the first round of the NBA draft by the Chicago Bulls. In his rookie year, World Peace proved to be a solid player, averaging 12 points per game, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. Halfway through the 2001–2002 season, however, he was traded by the Bulls to the Indiana Pacers.
World Peace, known as Artest at the time, missed the first 23 games of his first season with the Pacers with a broken right ring finger, but when he returned he was ranked second in the NBA with a career-high 2.56 steals per game. The following year, he put more points on the board—15.5 points per game versus 10.9 the previous year—and was runner-up for NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Always known as a tough player, World Peace's reputation was truly displayed during the 2003–2004 season, when he was involved in a brawl between the Pacers and Detroit Pistons in November of 2004. During the melee, World Peace bolted into the crowd to fight a fan who he believed had thrown something at him and then returned to the court to continue the battle. He was suspended for the rest of the season, which amounted to 86 games, an NBA record. At the end of the season, World Peace requested a trade, and by January of 2005 he was a Sacramento King. His physical style of play remained his trademark in Sacramento, and it stayed with him through his 2008 trade to the Houston Rockets.
In 2009, World Peace was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, and he became an important member of the squad in the 2010–2011 season, which ended with the Lakers being crowned NBA champs and World Peace earning his first championship ring.
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