L.A. Lakers champ and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Santa Fe Springs, visited Eastmont Intermediate School to talk to children about accessing mental health services and battling stigmas associated with seeking help, they said. Artest was greeted with loud cheers.
Artest told about 700 5th-to-8th graders about challenges he faced growing up in Queens after his parents divorced when he was 13. He said he sought counseling to help him deal with anger and hold his marriage together. Unlike in previous public appearances, Artest was wearing all his clothes, button-down but casual in a sports coat and jeans.
Napolitano, a long-time promoter of mental health services, revealed some of her own personal struggles when she acknowledged she was molested as a small child.
“At that time, nobody talked about it. This was a big secret,” she said after the presentation.
Afterward, Napolitano and Artest moved to a room off to the side of the stage where media could interview them. Artest was so tightly cornered by about 10 news cameras and reporters that I at first had trouble finding the 6’7″ athlete. But he was gracious with everyone and slipped out a side door after about 15 minutes of taking questions.
(via reporter Bethania Palma Markus)