Ron Artest changes his ways
By KEN HOFFMAN Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle
March 25, 2009, 6:30PM
New! Share Rockets content
Courtside with Blinebury
Feigen on NBA
Yao Central with fan Ren Hsieh
ē Jazz 99, Rockets 86 ē Rockets 87, Spurs 85 ē Rockets 107, T-Wolves 88 ē Rockets 106, Pistons 101 ē Rockets 95, Hornets 84 Follow the season timeline FAN FOCUS
ē Rockets fans in the stands ē Face-painting fans at opener ē Rockets fans at training camp STATS & MORE
Schedule | Stats | Injuries | Moves Speak up in the Rockets forum
Complete Rockets coverage
In 2007, animal control officers were called to basketball star Ron Artestís home in Sacramento, Calif.
Artest, now a Houston Rocket, played for the Sacramento Kings back then.
Neighbors said that Artest often went on long road trips with the Kings and left his dog Socks without food or water.
When officers got to Artestís house, they found the female Great Dane underweight and sick. They seized his dog and accused Artest of animal neglect. The dog was placed with a local veterinarian. It took a month for the dog to regain its proper weight and strength.
Charges were never filed. Artest claimed that he hired people to come to his house and care for the dog, and it wasnít his fault that they never showed up. He did agree to let another family adopt the Great Dane, though.
This was not the only time that animal control officers seized animals from Artestís home. It happened three times before. Each time, the dogs were removed, nourished back to health and placed with new owners.
Monday night, Artest will host a fundraiser for the Houston Humane Society at Caponeís Restaurant and Bar, 4307 Westheimer, just inside the Loop. Caponeís is a throwback speakeasy with brick-oven pizzas and tapas on the menu. Starting at 7 p.m., Artest will throw on an apron and begin tossing pizzas in the air. There will be a meet í ní greet, a silent auction and plenty of autographs. Itís free to get in. You donate just by ordering food and something to drink.
Artest also recently filmed a public service announcement for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. In the spot, Artest urges people to spay and neuter their pets. And definitely donít get involved with dog fighting. Thatís Artest, wearing a PETA T-shirt, shooting hoops and playing with a pit bull from a neighborhood shelter. You can check out the spot by clicking on www.ronartest.com
How did Artest go from animal abuser to animal advocate? PETA showed him the way.
ďI was an irresponsible pet owner, and I got in some trouble,Ē Artest said after a practice last week at Toyota Center. ďPETA came and showed me how to be a better pet owner. A lot of times, itís a simple thing. One of my problems was that the fence around my home wasnít safe enough. I had a lot of dogs, and they kept getting out. The thing is, just because youíre irresponsible, it doesnít mean you donít love your pets. I loved my dogs. You just need to be more mature and accountable for how you treat your animals. I had to be educated.Ē
Artest said heís had pets all his life. Itís just recently, though, that heís learned how to take care of them.
ďI grew up in New York City, in an apartment in Queens. We had cats mostly. My thing was cats. We had 10 or 11 cats at one time. The house would be really, really stinky. I remember one time, my mother got us a dog. I didnít know how to train it, and before we knew it, my dog was super mean. We had to take it to the shelter and have it put to sleep.Ē
Artest played college basketball for St. Johnís in New York and joined the NBA in 1999. He admits that he wasnít emotionally mature. He began picking up dogs and bringing them home.
ďI had maybe 10 dogs then. I got my first pit bull later on when I was playing in Indiana. I didnít know anything about pits, but I had one. I got it at the animal shelter. You have to learn how to raise them the right way. I didnít know how to do it. In my PETA spot, you see me letting a pit bull lick my face. I would never let my own pit bull near my hands even,Ē he said.
As time wore on, Artestís behavior on the court became more aggressive, with incidents leading to suspensions, and his neglect of animals at home became a bigger problem.
Some animals were seized by officials. Other animals, he simply brought to the shelter or gave to friends.
Then they came and took Socks. Enter PETA.
Artest, wife Kimsha and their three children have no pets in the house now. He doesnít have the time to properly care for them. Artest said that once ďI get settled in Houston,Ē he will adopt a couple of dogs.
His wife has laid down the law Ö no cats.
That ďget settledĒ line may mean he intends to stay with the Rockets after he becomes a free agent in June.
ďI would like to stay here. I love it here, and the organization is pleased with me. Thatís a good sign. This is my first choice,Ē he said.
Another good sign is his solid, incident-free play that has the Rockets square in the playoff hunt. Heís practically been a choir boy this year. He said working with PETA and the Houston Humane Society has helped.
ďI really like the Houston Humane Society. Iíve been down there doing a lot of things with them. Iíve told my people that whenever they need me for something, theyíve got to make it happen. Iíve always loved animals. Now Iíve learned how to be responsible. If youíve watched me play basketball, people might not say I was a nice guy. Iím a totally different person off the court now. Over the years, Iíve become more mature, and Iíve learned to control my energy and temper. Maturity has also taught me the right way to treat animals, too. Iíve grown up.Ē