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Artest thinks Vick will emerge 'a better person'

NEW YORK -- NBA star Ron Artest was glad to see troubled
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick express remorse for his
involvement in a dogfighting operation and would like to reach out
to him.

"I want to call him and support him, you know, be there for
him," Artest said. "[He] lied and then came back and apologized
to everybody, I felt that was classy. ... I was touched that he
took full responsibility. I felt that was a real man. I know for a
fact he'll come out a better person."

Artest, speaking Tuesday during a press conference for the 17th
annual All-Star Classic for Wheelchair Charities that will be held
at Madison Square Garden, has experienced his own share of problems
on and off the court. He was suspended and fined for the rest of
the 2004-05 season for his part in the infamous brawl with fans at
the end of a game in Detroit early in that season.

"I think athletes just gotta be more aware," he said. "At
times things happen so fast in your life, you just stay living that
same lifestyle. You can't do it no more. I just hope people can
take the mistakes I made, mistakes other people are making and just
learn from them."

Along with being the face for Wheelchair Charities, Artest is
getting his image back on track by starting up Xcel Universities, a
virtual university to help out youngsters in New York City with
academics and no emphasis on basketball.

In Indianapolis, Colts coach Tony Dungy said he was troubled by
the symbolism of Vick's troubles and not his absence from the NFL.

"From a societial standpoint, it's a tragedy," Dungy said. "I
think that's what we've got to look at and not so much the impact
on the NFL or how we're dealing with it. But as a society, we've
got to -- especially as African-Americans -- we've got to get the
idea that going to prison is not acceptable. It's just not what we
should be about. So hopefully we can learn from it. And, hopefully,
all of us can learn and maybe help insure that it doesn't happen
again."