Ron Artest to donate 2011-12 salary

Updated: December 9, 2010, 3:27 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- For 99.9 percent of the players in the NBA, July 1, 2011 is circled on their calendars as the start of a potential lockout if the player's union and the league's owners can't come to terms on a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires on June 30.

For Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest, July 1 marks the day he will announce just how much of his 2011-12 salary he will donate to charities to benefit mental health awareness.

It takes a dedicated 0.1 percentile-type of person to consider giving away a large percentage of the $6.79 million he is contracted to make next season.

"Either all or some," Artest said about his donation plans prior to the Lakers' game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday. "You'll know July 1."

The 12-year veteran, who has made more than $52 million in salary through his first 11 seasons, refrained from providing much further detail, wishing to focus on the season and saying that he has already received enough publicity for raffling off his 2010 NBA championship ring on his personal website for charity.

As of last week, the raffle had already raised $464,525, according to Artest's manager. The winner will be selected on Christmas Day when the Lakers host the Miami Heat.

Artest said his wife and family are behind him with his decision.

"We lost $7 million before," Artest said, alluding to the money he lost while he was suspended for 73 regular-season games and 13 playoff games following the incident when he went into the stands in Detroit. "At least [this time] it's going to something good."

The city of Las Vegas honored him with "Ron Artest Day" in October for his charitable efforts associated with Xcel University, and former President Bill Clinton and Nevada Sen. Harry Reid attended the ceremony.

"President Clinton was happy about the turnaround [in my life]," Artest said.

The Lakers will meet with President Barack Obama on Monday in Washington, D.C., but Artest said he will not push his charitable agenda with the Commander-in-Chief.

"I don't think I have to," Artest said. "I think he already knows. ... But I don't know if he's thought about it as much as I've thought about it.

"I'm no president, I'm no mayor or congressman or anything like that, nor do I want to be, but I think personally it will help a lot of issues. People will be able to reach their potential. There's probably a lot of great mayors and presidents that are in foster care systems that don't have a chance to be president."

Artest planned to host a party to benefit his charity initiative after the Clippers game Wednesday night with celebrity guest invitees including Biz Markie and Jamie Foxx.

While he's garnering attention for his mental health awareness mission now, Artest said his involvement started years ago when he played for the Sacramento Kings and he organized free group counseling sessions for children and posted the videos on YouTube for other youth to benefit from.

"Anybody going through problems, they could identify their problems with any individual kid and be like, 'Wow, I'm going through what he's going through,'" Artest said. "When you're weak mentally, there's nothing a kid can do when he's not strong yet or she's not strong yet."

Artest agreed with a reporter who said that the charitable efforts have become almost a mission for the 31-year old.

"It's fun, it's exciting," Artest said. "It's almost like a basketball game because it's that exciting. It feels like dunking on somebody, and I don't dunk much. It's just exciting and it's weird. It's a weird excitement. It's not like fun and games because it's a real issue, but for me, it's exciting to be a part of.

"It's going to make an impact. It will snowball. It will have a domino effect later. It will have a domino effect real, real soon once people see exactly what's going on."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.