- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The NBA’s Metta World Peace brought his star power to D.C. Wednesday, calling on Congress to pass legislation that would increase funding for mental health services in schools.

“It’s about time that we actually make a difference and we actually take action,” he said outside the U.S. Capitol, flanked by congressmen and other mental health advocates. “Pass the bill this time so we can get services to schools.”

Mr. World Peace, who was waived by the New York Knicks in February, is perhaps best known for venturing into the stands in 2004 during a game against the Detroit Pistons to go after a fan he thought threw an object at him. Then a member of the Indiana Pacers, he was suspended for 86 games by the NBA for his role in the brawl.

Mr. World Peace, a former NBA defensive player of the year, has since found success, however, and legally changed his name in 2011 from Ron Artest. He has undergone counseling himself and even thanked his psychiatrist on national television after winning a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2010.

He raffled off his championship ring for about $700,000 — money he donated to mental health efforts.

“That’s not enough for America,” he said Wednesday. “You will see us and hear from us more and more.”

Mr. World Peace was joined by Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who has been diagnosed with a condition known as Borderline Personality Disorder, and Keith Mitchell, a former NFL linebacker injured on the field who advocated the benefits of yoga and meditation.

Mr. World Peace said that in visiting inmates in various prisons around the country, he sees many former children who “never had purpose.”

“I feel this is my purpose the same way Brandon feels it’s his purpose, and that’s why we’re here today,” Mr. World Peace said.

“Y’all have the power of the pen,” he said. “Write great stories; report awesome reports.”

The legislation, first introduced in 2013, faces an uphill climb in Congress, however. It has more than 80 co-sponsors but only one Republican has signed on, according to the chief sponsor, Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano of California.

Ms. Napolitano said Wednesday they’ll keep trying and that getting the bill passed is going to take electing more officials who understand the need of providing such services in schools and the importance of treating mental health like any other illness.

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