He didn’t land a helicopter, take a limousine, or even drive a fancy car. Despite the fame and fortune that he has received for winning the 2010 NBA Finals, Ron Artest went back to his roots by taking the subway to a ceremony held in his honor on Thursday, July 15.
A native of Queensbridge in Long Island City, Artest was honored on by the East River Development Alliance (ERDA) with a special ceremony in front of the Jacob Riis Neighborhood Settlement House. About 100 fans were gathered even before the 4:30 start of the event, including many children sitting on the steps in front of the podium, looking up at their hometown hero.
Artest took the microphone and the recent NBA champion stressed to the residents of Queensbridge that you can achieve success despite difficult circumstances.
“This is a special message being sent,” said ERDA Founder and President Bishop Mitchell Taylor. “He did not allow his demographics to dictate his destiny.”
Artest spoke about his athletic success and his desire to win another championship, in addition to how the neighborhood turned him into such a tough, perseverant basketball player. Following the ceremony, he motivated the kids in the crowd with inspirational words; preaching about the supporting resources available to them in Queensbridge.
“Little do you know there’s a lot of support in this neighborhood,” said Artest. “If you need advice or help or you need to talk to somebody, if you’ve got somebody trying to help you, then you should do it.”
During the event, Artest was asked about anything and everything from Twitter to his rap album, from LeBron James to Justin Bieber.
“I’m a big Justin Bieber fan,” Artest said jokingly.
But the event marked an even more significant achievement for Artest. After the infamous brawl in Detroit in 2004 that got him suspended for 73 games after he fought with several fans, a lot of bad press and negativity surrounded Artest. Now that he’s won a championship and can bring pride back to Queensbridge, Artest’s basketball career has come full circle.
“It’s great because with that brawl, I got a lot of negative publicity,” he said. “Now, I think it kind of changes a little bit, and brings back the fun.”