It's official: For the upcoming season of ABC's hit show, "Dancing with the Stars," I'll be rooting for Ron Artest.
The NBA star, once known for his bad boy antics, has turned into a philanthropic force off the court; going so far as to petition a court to change his name to Metta World Peace
. Last year, the 31-year-old raffled off his NBA Championship ring (and raised $500,000) to benefit high-risk youth struggling with mental health issues.
"This was a good thing,'' he told reporters at the time
. "It got publicity, it raised money, and now we can start over. It gives me more energy and desire to go out and win another ring to do this all over again."
According to Mark Medina of the L.A. Times
, Artest's passion for helping others will extend to the dance floor — something his daughter convinced him was the right move. "She said, 'Daddy, you can do it,' " he said. "It's going to be fun."
At age 4, Diamond Artest was diagnosed with wilms tumor, a type of kidney cancer that affects children. She eventually beat it — and in honor of her fight, Artest will donate all of his winnings (which includes the initial $125,000 appearance paycheck) to the Cancer Research Foundation
"That's the only reason I'm doing it," he told the newspaper. "I'm doing it for a cause."
Since Artest receives more cash for every round he advances, consider this one big fundraiser for cancer research — and one giant reason to back the guy during the contest.
"Dancing with the Stars" Cha-cha-chas onto to ABC starting Sept. 19.