The memories still seem vivid in Metta World Peace’s mind as he recalled toiling in physical matchups with Chamique Holdsclaw on the playground hardwood around the projects in Queensbridge, N.Y. It would not mark the first time World Peace felt like he could relate to his childhood friend.
Both World Peace and Holdsclaw became living examples on how mental health issues can both take a toll on their lives, while also becoming outspoken on the topic to inspire others.
After once becoming infamous for his role with the Palace Brawl in 2004, World Peace dealt with issues stemmed from alcohol abuse and anger issues. World Peace created a new reputation for his help with mental health charities that won him the 2010-11 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
As she rose and fell as a WNBA star, Holdsclaw struggled with having a bipolar disorder that led to depression, a near overdose and an arrest in 2013 for assaulting her girlfriend, Jennifer Lacy. Holdsclaw has since spoken at college campuses, written a book and has participated in a documentary that will air on May 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the LOGO network titled “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw.”
Both Holdsclaw and World Peace plan to speak at UCLA on May 18 about the documentary, with hope that their stories could inspire others that also deal with mental health issues. World Peace also spoke those topics with Southern California News Group in a Q&A below.
What memories do you have growing up with Holdsclaw?
World Peace: Chamique, we’re from the same area, Long Island city. She’s from the Estoria projects and I’m from the Queensbridge project. We lived about 10 blocks away from each other. I played her when I was 11, 12 or 13. She would start and I would come off the bench and played behind her and subbed in for her in a couple of games. She’s a very good player. She’s a good friend and I grew up with her grandmother. When her grandmother passed away [in 2002], she was in the WNBA and had a lot of mental breakdowns and nobody really knew why she was breaking down. A lot of it had to do with her grandmother being gone.”
How she has been lately?
World Peace: “She’s good now. She’s been on the road to telling her story. She’s helping a lot of people. She’s been really good.”
Knowing her and the mental health work you’ve done and the journey you’ve had, what kind of support over the years have you provided for her?
World Peace: “I haven’t really known her that way. We haven’t really touched base. She’s more in touch with Lamar [Odom] a lot. But Chamique, I didn’t know a lot about the things she was going through. She didn’t know some of the things I was going through. It’s probably a little bit of both of our faults for not following up with each other and following through and making sure everybody is okay. You can make it seem like everything is fine. But that’s not the case all the time.
You and Chamique have often talked about the importance of being open about your issues and not being afraid to seek help. What has that done?
World Peace: “Being able to tell people what’s on your mind is helpful. For me, it’s been therapeutic. I’ve been able to not be guarded and be a little bit vulnerable with my situation. When you come out and say you need to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist, back in 1999, if you said that on TV, the media would be calling you crazy. Nowadays, the media are not as quick to call you crazy or to degrade you. Back in the day, nobody was going to come out and support it.
One, it’s very therapeutic. Two, it’s definitely to the asset to the community and to the world. When you’re coming out as Chamique Holdsclaw or Ron Artest and letting kids know you have problems and you’re not perfect, you’re vulnerable. A lot of people feel the same way, whether you’re an athlete or not an athlete. It sends a very positive message.
What memories do you have of playing with her?
World Peace: “She was so good. She definitely is an all-time great. She probably would have gone down as the best women’s player in the game if she didn’t have a roadblock in the middle of her career. When she was young, she used to back the boys down and they always tried to bully her. It never happened. They always tried to because she’s a girl. They tried to get rough with her and she always held her ground and always dominated. Anybody that came up against her, she would rebound and score and get the boards all game.”
Did you play pretty physical with her as well?
World Peace: “Hell yeah. Everybody played her physical. You had to. If you didn’t, she would destroy you. She was a major problem. If you saw her play in the WNBA, she played like a boy. If you saw how she played with jump shots, all of her moves were like [Michael Jordan’s]. She played and stopped on a dime. She stopped and popped. She rebounded. She moved the ball through her legs. She was doing that all the time. We never took it easy on her. We were never afraid to hurt Chamique. We played hard against her.”
You said in the film the game was so easy for her. How so?
World Peace: “She was real tough and very aggressive. She had all the moves. She had more moves than what we had. We didn’t have any game. We just played hard. She played hard and she had moves and she had a jumper. She was amazing.”
You and Chamique were honored at the Voice Awards in 2012 for your help in raising awareness with mental health issues. What do you remember about that night?
World Peace: “Being with Chamique, it was very humbling because I look up to her. She’s been that person in my neighborhood. She was an icon. There’s certain people that you can’t touch. There’s one of those people that when Chamique comes around, you have to show her respect. That’s how it was when she came around. She’s an icon. She’s an icon to women’s basketball. You could imagine what she was to people in her own area. When I see her, I’m always happy because she always made me happy. It’s just Chamique. I feel the same way about her now that I felt when we first started to see each other as kids.”
Have you guys been able to cross paths recently?
World Peace: “Not really. We talk on Facebook. I’m trying to raise my kids. I don’t have a lot of time to do things. I’m busy raising my kids.”
What do you hope this documentary does?
World Peace: “I hope it gives more people awareness on Chamique. I hope you can see the person that she is and how she’s evolving. She’s a really great basketball mind. She needs to coach in the NBA or the WNBA. She should coach. She’s so smart.”
I know she has run a lot of basketball clinics and had a good basketball career. But what would make her a good coach?
World Peace: “She got game. She has real game. When you’re talking to somebody that had game, you’re going to respect it. It’s not like just a regular basketball player. She’s not playing men’s basketball. But her mind works like a great player. When you’re speaking about greatness, if you’re trying to be great, then the language is the same language.”