Metta World Peace has long been a fan favorite for the Los Angeles Lakers. He has a unique sense of humor, a contagious smile, and a love for the game of basketball that runs deep. When MWP steps on the court, however, the friendly smile disappears, replaced by a serious glare that developed from years of playing on the streets on Queens, New York.
After winning the 2010 NBA championship with the Lakers, World Peace shocked some fans when, in spite of his physical play on the court and tough exterior, he thanked his psychologist. Since then, Metta has become a champion of mental health awareness, working to de-stigmatize the issue. Back in February, he spoke about doing just that with the Huffington Post:
I don’t feel bad about telling somebody I see a psychologist. I don’t feel that you should feel bad about improving yourself. And then if you tell people that you’re trying to improve yourself, they’re going to want to improve themselves and not be embarrassed about going to see a psychologist.
World Peace has helped create awareness for an issue that plagues many Americans and has used his status as a sports icon to make it more acceptable to openly discuss. As a result of his efforts, Metta World Peace has been awarded a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from Grace Napolitano, the U.S. Representative from California’s 32nd Congressional District. World Peace announced the good news via his Instagram account:
In an interview with ESPN last August, World Peace was proud of the fact that his efforts had helped other NBA players who had also seen psychologists, including Lakers teammate Roy Hibbert. However, he cautioned that there is still work to be done:
I think we have a long ways to go. We try to let people know that this is an issue that should be discussed in the household, in the schools, amongst friends…..And I’m not afraid to represent and really advocate for a guy like Dennis Rodman, whose mother was out of his life and on drugs….I’m not afraid to advocate for myself, no matter how many wrongdoings I’ve done, to help myself improve…It’s about, “How can you help this guy who’s going through all these problems?”
Lakers Nation would like to congratulate Metta World Peace for receiving this award for his dedication to de-stigmatizing the important issue of mental health. World Peace has stated that he would like to return to Los Angeles next season and has also expressed an interest in coaching. Regardless of what role MWP has next year, with the Lakers or otherwise, Lakers fans are proud to consider him part of the family.