Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest, famously known for his role in the 2004 brawl between his Indiana Pacers and the Detroit Pistons, legally and ironically changed his name Friday to Metta World Peace.
Metta is his first name, and World Peace is his surname.
Ron Artest, (World Peace) has contemplated the name change for years and always knew that he wanted his last name to be World Peace, but it took many years of research and soul searching to find a first name that was both personally meaningful and inspirational, says World Peace's publicist.
Famous athletes have been known to pseudonyms (see: Eldrick Woods, Dwayne Johnson), but only a handful have legally changed their name. The most famous name changer was boxer Cassius Clay, who changed his name to Muhammad Ali after joining the Nation of Islam. Most recently, NFL wideout Chad Johnson legally changed his name to Chad Ochocinco, referencing his jersey No. 85.
Artest's name change to Metta World Peace was supposed to occur on August 26, but the ruling was delayed by the court commissioner due to a number of outstanding traffic tickets. Really. Now that the tickets are paid, World Peace can exist (unfortunately, no pun intended).
For years, Ron Artest's reputation in the NBA resembled anything but peace.
On November 19, 2004, in the closing minutes of a Pacers-Pistons game at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich., a fight broke out between Artest and Pistons center Ben Wallace after Wallace was fouled from behind by Artest. As players from both teams confronted each other, Artest left to the scorer's table where he put on a headset with radio broadcaster Mark Boyle, and laid down on the scorer's table. A spectator threw a cup of Diet Coke at Artest as he lay on the table, which prompted Artest to run into the stands and attack a man who he mistakenly believed was the culprit. Pacers teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal joined Artest in the stands and threw punches at fans, causing attendees to spill out onto the court or flee the arena. The chaotic event later came to be known as The Malice At The Palace.
Following the incident, Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season and was docked nearly $5 million in salary that year.
Through various stints with the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, and LA Lakers, Artest developed a reputation for being a feisty player who loved to get under the skin of his defensive assignment. Also known for his eccentric behavior, Artest was responsible for one of the most memorable post-game interviews in NBA history. Following his Lakers' Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics to capture the 2010 NBA Championship, Artest took his interview opportunity to thank his friends, associates, my psychiatrist, and everybody in my hood.
Once the NBA lockout ends and play resumes, if it ever does, World Peace will wear sport a new No. 70 jersey with World Peace on the back.
World Peace's eight-year-old daughter Diamond has already said she wants to adopt her father's new surname.