July 1, 2011 is the date that many NBA players associate with the potential lockout if the player's union and league's owner's do not come to an agreement on the new collective bargaining agreement. Ron Artest, however, is looking toward that date for another reason.
That date, for Artest, marks the announcement of how much of his 2011-12 salary he will donate to charities that benefit mental health awareness. Artest is set to make $6.79 million next season.
"Either all or some," Artest told reporters about his donation plans before the Lakers took on the Clippers on Wednesday. "You'll know July 1."
Artest's lastest endeavor comes right on the coattails of his most recent charitable act – raffling off his 2010 NBA Championship ring on his website. While some of this teammates think he's crazy, the effort has already raised $464,525 for charity. The winner of Artest's ring will be announced on Christmas Day when the Lakers host the Miami Heat.
Artest said that his wife and family are fully supportive of the idea of donating next season's salary.
"We lost $7 million before," Artest said, speaking of the money lost when he went into the stands and fought Pistons fans in Detroit, which caused him to be suspended for 73 regular-season games and 13 playoff games. "At least [this time] it’s going to something good."
Despite the recent spotlight for his mental health awareness mission, Artest’s involvement stems back to his days with the Sacramento Kings. While playing in Sacramento, Artest organized free group counseling sessions for children and posted the videos on YouTube for other individuals to benefit from.
"Anybody going through problems, they could identify their problems with any individual kid and be like, 'Wow, I'm going through what he's going through,'" Artest said. "When you're weak mentally, there's nothing a kid can do when he's not strong yet or she's not strong yet."