Queens NBA star helps kids at home 1

Los Angeles Lakers forward Meta World Peace, a Queens native formerly known as Ron Artest, presents a check to Susan Wyant, chief of external affairs for the Child Center of NY last Wednesday. World Peace gave away nearly $300,000 to eight charities, including two in Queens, that offer mental health counseling and treatment.

Basketball has brought Queensbridge native Ron Artest fame, riches and controversy.

And all played a role this week when Artest, who has legally changed his name to Meta World Peace, donated $120,000 to two Queens charities for children.

The Child Center of NY, which will receive $55,000, has 14 locations in Queens and helps at-risk children succeed through programs of early childhood education, child abuse prevention and youth development.

Steinway Child and Family Services, Inc., headquartered in Long Island City, provides individual, group and family therapy.

World Peace made the announcement on Tuesday, one day after being the first celebrity voted off the new season of “Dancing with the Stars.”

“On Friday, he changed his name,” said Laura Schenone of the Child Center. “On Tuesday we went on “Dancing With the Stars,” and got voted off. Wednesday he gave away money to charities including ours. He said during the press conference that it was the perfect timing to help him get over feeling bad about losing.”

Mary Redd, president and CEO of Steinway, said the money will be used to assist youth transitioning from hospital to community care.

“The Queensbridge community loves you, Meta World Peace, and says thank you for remembering,” she said.

The Child Center will use the gift for two programs.

One will focus on crisis prevention in an attempt to assist youth with bi-polar illness, depression and behavioral disorders who might otherwise need psychiatric hospitalization.

The second will help establish on-site mental health screening at afterschool programs in Queens.

The goal, according to a statement issued by the center, is to identify children in need before the problems become more difficult to address.

World Peace attended St. John’s University and was drafted into the National Basketball Association in 1999. He was playing with the Indiana Pacers in 2004 when he was involved in an ugly on-court brawl with the Detroit Pistons that spilled over into the stands and resulted in his receiving the longest suspension in NBA history for an on-court incident.

He has been very open in saying that both counseling as a teenager and mental health counseling since the brawl have been important in helping him turn himself around.

The grants were among $299,000 in gifts to eight organizations in the country.

The money will come from the $500,000 that the Los Angeles Lakers forward collected auctioning off his 2010 championship ring last December. He pledged that all the proceeds from his “Win My Bling” auction would be used to benefit mental health charities.

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