Ron Artest wants to follow in the footsteps of sports stars like Lew Alcindor aka Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Chad Johnson aka Chad Ochocinco and discard his government name for a flashy new moniker. Last week, Artest revealed that he wants to change his name to Metta World Peace.
According to ESPN, on Thursday, June 23, Artest’s attorney filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court seeking the name change. In the court documents, the 31-year-old baller, born Ronald William Artest, cited personal reasons as the cause for the name change. Artest is scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 26 when the petition will be considered.
In an interview with TMZ, Artest explained that he originally wanted to change his name three years ago. However, Artest, who once known for his wildly aggressive behavior, has now decided to change his name to the Buddhist-inspired title (“Metta” means “a strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others.”) because he wants to start a worldwide “star power youth movement.”
“It’s all about star power. It’s all about that positive energy,” said Artest. “I’ve been doing so many positive things lately and I always tell people it’s not about changing my image. I would never change. I’m still the same dude from the ‘hood, that’s never changing. It’s about doing different things and being inspirational.”
Artest also revealed that he didn’t inform his wife, Kimsha, of the name change, instead letting her find out through the media.
“She called me up and she was like, ‘What is this?’” said Artest. “She said, ‘I hope you don’t think I’m changing my name!’ ”
Artest explained that his wife and kids are fine with the name change and according to Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak, he’s not sweating the name change, either.
“It brought a smile to my face,” said Kupchak to ESPN. “It’s been done before. … So, other than that, I don’t really have a comment.”
If the name change does go through, Lakers fans will have to get used to seeing Artest’s new last name, “World Peace,” printed across the back of his jersey. The question remains, will his young fans be moved by his name change and will people still buy his jersey?