Former American professional basketball player Ron Artest once went by the name Metta World Peace. The unusual name has brought attention to a man whose career is worthy of respect and admiration. The athlete, who notably spent some time with the Los Angeles Lakers where he won a championship, is an accomplished player with multiple award recognitions. He spent a total of 18 years as a professional basketball player, 16 of which were in the NBA. But before we take a look at all the franchises he played for, and his achievements, here is why he opted to change his name in the first place.
Artest Changed His Name to Metta World Peace to Inspire the Youth and Promote Positive Collaboration
The man largely known around the world today as Metta World Peace was born on November 13, 1979, in Queens, New York as Ronald William Artest Jr. For 31 years, he held on to the name, making his way through college basketball and to the NBA before officially announcing he was changing it to Metta World Peace on September 16, 2011.
The athlete picked Metta (a traditional Buddhist word which means loving-kindness and friendliness towards all) as his first name and World Peace (a self-explanatory English word that represents what they meant) as his last name. According to him, he changed his name to inspire and bring the youth together all around the world. The decision was a part of several personal reforms he was going through after the wild and violent lifestyle he lived as a young player.
NBA fans would recall that he suffered several disciplinary and legal issues in the league. Between 2003 and 2005, he was suspended from multiple games for different reasons, including destroying a TV camera at Madison Square Garden. He was also at the center of the infamous Pacers-Pistons brawl which involved players and fans in 2004. He missed 86 games as a result.
Other than changing his name, Metta World Peace became an advocate for mental health issues. He also became an animal rights activist, appearing in several ads for PETA campaigns.
Metta World Peace Began His Professional Career with the Chicago Bulls
Metta World Peace was one of the highest-rated college players in the country going into the 1999 NBA Draft. Over three years playing for St. John’s University, he helped the Red Storm to a 14-4 record in the Big East Conference. He also helped the team to a 28-9 record in the NCAA Division I Tournament, all in his final season.
Recognizing his talent, the Chicago Bulls selected him in the first round with the 16th overall pick, signing him to a three-year $3.48 million contract. On joining the Bulls, Ron earned a spot in the NBA All-Rookie Second Team for the 1999/2000 season. He was named in the team after averaging 12 points per game (ppg) in 72 games.
Despite maintaining his record in his sophomore year, with 11.9 ppg over 76 games, his love affair with the Bulls ended quickly. Halfway through the 2001/02 season, after playing 175 games for the franchise, he was traded to the Indiana Pacers.
His Best Individual Years Were With the Pacers
World Peace continued to soar in his career, averaging 18.3 points and 5.7 rebounds per game at Indiana in the 2003/04 season. In the prior two seasons, he averaged 15.5 and 10.9 points per game, signing a six-year $40.8 million contract along the way. His performance in the 2003/04 season earned him a spot in the 2004 NBA All-Star Game and won him the Defensive Player of the Year award. He was also named in the NBA All-Defensive First Team and All-NBA Third Team in the same year.
Unfortunately, the infamous Malice at the Palace brawl in the 2004/05 season colored the early years of his Pacers career. As a result of the incidents that occurred during the game against the Detroit Pistons in Michigan on November 19, 2004, the NBA suspended Metta for the rest of the season, including playoff games. He would then go on to miss out on 86 games, making it the longest suspension for an on-court incident in NBA history.
After the expiration of his suspension, early into the 2005/06, the player requested a trade from the Pacers, causing a rift with other players on the team and the franchise’s president, Larry Bird. He was consequently traded to the Sacramento Kings on January 25, 2006.
World Peace Returned to His Best at Sacramento
Ron Artest was once again an impactful basketball player at Sacramento, assisting his team to come up in the Western Conference chart and increasing their playoff chances. Although he joined the team halfway through the season in 2006, he averaged 16.9 ppg for the Kings, starting 40 out of 40 games. His performance earned him another award recognition as a member of the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Metta World Peace continued being impressive for the Kings over the next two seasons, dropping 18.8 and 20.5 points per game in the 06/07 and 07/08 seasons. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep him on the team’s roster as in August 2008, the Kings traded him to the Houston Rockets for Bobby Jackson.
He Helped the Rockets Past the First Round for the First Time in 12 Seasons
Although Metta World Peace only spent a season with the Houston Rockets, he left a significant footprint. He played a total of 69 games for the team, starting 55 of them. He averaged 17.1 points and had 5.2 rebounds per game over the regular season.
His most impressive feat, however, came in the playoffs. He played and started all 13 games of the Rocket’s 2009 playoff run. He averaged 15.6 ppg with 4.2 assists per game, his personal best in the post-season. His performance helped the Rockets get past the Portland Trailblazers before they succumb to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Lakers Gave Metta His Only NBA Championship
Following his impressive performance in their hotly contested playoff series in 2009, the Los Angeles Lakers management signed World Peace to a long-term contract. He signed a five-year deal worth $33.95 million.
Metta’s first season for the Lakers was a success, on an individual and team level. He played 77 out of 77 games in the regular season, averaging 11 ppg. In the playoffs, he was an ever-present member of the Lakers’ 2010 title-winning team. He notably hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals and averaged 11.2 ppg throughout the series.
The Lakers went on to win the NBA finals after defeating the Boston Celtics in seven games. Aside from the championship, he also won a place in the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
Sadly, his first season with the Lakers was the best of his time with the franchise. Metta could not complete his deal with the team due to a decline in his performance because of a series of injuries. The Lakers, therefore, waived him off their roster in July 2013.
The small forward would go on to sign a two-year $3.25 million contract with New York Knicks in the same month but would, however, get waived again in February 2014. He managed to play 29 games for the team, starting only one game before they bought out his contract.
World Peace Had a Short Stint in China and Italy Before Retirement
Between 2014 and 2015, World Peace had stints with CBA’s Sichuan Blue Whales and LBA’s Pallacanestro Cantù. With the Whales, he managed 19 ppg and 2.3 steals per game before moving to Italy to play for the Pallacanestro Cantù. He spent only three months with the team before returning to the US after he failed to reach a contract agreement with the Italian team.
In September 2015, Metta World Peace returned to the Los Angeles Lakers on a one-year $1.55 million contract. He was a fringe player throughout his second stint with the team, playing only 60 games and starting 7.
Artest subsequently retired from professional basketball at the end of the 2016/17 season. He had played 991 regular-season games and 85 playoff games, averaging 13.2 ppg in the former and 13.9 ppg in the latter.
In the same year he retired, the athlete took up a role as a player development coach with the South Bay Lakers, the Los Angeles Lakers’ development-league team in the G-league. He spent a year as a coach before he moved on to other ventures.
Metta was First Married to His Childhood Girlfriend Kimsha Hartfield
When he was a teenager, Metta World Peace began an on-and-off relationship with Kimsha Hatfield who is famous today for featuring in VH1’s reality show, Basketball Wives: LA. She also appeared in the TV show, Life After, in 2010.
The two got married in June 2003 but divorced in 2009 for undisclosed reasons. Together, they have three children; daughters Sadie and Diamond, and son Ron Artest III. Their first child Sadie was born in 1997 while Ron III was born two years later in 1999. Diamond’s year of birth remains unknown.
Ron III is a college basketball player at California State University, Northridge. Sadie, on the other hand, has appeared with her parents in two reality shows; Home & Family and Life After. Diamond also appeared in an episode of The Millers in 2014.
In addition to Ron III, World Peace has another son, Jeron Artest, who is also a basketball player. He plays college basketball at the University of California, Irvine. Metta fathered Jeron with his high school girlfriend, Jennifer Palma.
World Peace has since become a grandfather through his older daughter Sadie.
He Has Since Married Maya Sandiford and Adopted Her Name
After he changed his name and immersed himself in self-development, Metta World Peace met and began a relationship with Korean-Canadian model, Maya Sandiford, in 2012. Since they started dating, the couple have spent most of their time outside of the media’s attention. Other than joint appearances on red carpet events, their relationship have existed largely outside of the public’s view.
However, in May 2020, the world got a rare insight into their relationship when Metta World Peace revealed that they got married and he had taken up her name. During an interview with Danny Green in an episode of Inside the Green Room with Danny Green, he revealed that he now went by Metta Sandiford-Artest. His wife, in turn, adopted his name and now goes by Maya Ford Artest.