View Full Version : My day in Queensbridge with Ron Artest

07-16-2010, 07:21 PM
My day in Queensbridge with Ron Artest
Fri Jul 16,2010 12:00 PM ET By Josiah Schlatter

When I heard that Ron Artest was holding a triumphant barbecue parade homecoming in Queensbridge, NY -- the place he grew up -- I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. To see someone so beloved come home to the area he cherishes as an NBA champion is special; and to cap it all off, the folks would hear the Ron Artest Tru Warier concert featuring his new song, Champion.

I emailed Artest, who makes his social information very public, and lo and behold, he responded. He gave me the number of his publicist, a bus ticket to New York and all of a sudden I was standing in the middle of Queensbridge Park on Thursday, getting a personal tour from Ron's entourage of the projects Ron grew up in, the court where he dribbled his first basketball and the barbershop where he hung out.

Artest shares a very interesting relationship with the area and people of Queensbridge, as he's one of the few athletes who are regularly associated with the place they grew up in. Most athletes who become professionals usually disassociate themselves from their home base, whether they mean it or not as they get drafted by teams in other cities and slowly drift away from the roots that made them who they are.

Can you remember where Michael Jordan called home? Alex Rodriguez? Kobe Bryant goes so much out of his way to ignore Lower Merion, Pa., that the people there basically loathe him. After almost every Artest interview you'll usually hear a quick "QUEENSBRIDGE" shoutout, to remind his gigantic pseudo-family he's thinking about them.

And most invariably, they're returning the favor. The fierce loyalty that Artest has shown to QB has been repaid tenfold by the people there, who had nothing but glowing words to say when I brought up his name. Simply put, it was like a Justin Bieber concert.

"When Artest won that NBA championship it was just as if every single one of us in Queensbridge won it along with him," said Chuck D., a friend of Artest and aspiring comedian. "You won't believe the amount of tears I saw streaming down everybody's faces. I've seen a whole bunch of very talented people come from QB (like Nas and Mobb Deep) but none of them ever did what Artest did, which is bring us an NBA championship. Artest is bigger than Obama in Queensbridge. We are so extremely proud of the kid."

Artest, like a true man of the people, arrived to the scene from the F line of the New York City subway a few minutes late of his estimated 4:30 p.m. arrival time. He was promptly swarmed by the Queensbridge faithful until he was surrounded by a ten-deep mob of outstretched hands holding Ron Artest Queensbridge t-shirts locals created for the occasion. This spectacle continued on for the entire time Artest spent outside as everywhere Ron attempted to turn he was met with new challengers for his handshake and signature. Young girls squealed at the mere glimpse of the brim of Artest's hat. I even heard one gentleman yell from the outskirts of the circle of hysteria, "PLEASE LET ME THROUGH, ALL I WANT IS TO SHAKE HIS HAND!" If aliens descended upon the earth at the time of the Artest barbecue, they might've assumed Artest was our God.

Though most men would feel extremely tired and uncomfortable to get stuck in the middle of a massive throng of people for basically four uninterrupted hours on a sweaty summer day, Artest exhibited zero signs of frustration. In fact, from what I could see Artest probably wants nothing more than to be constantly surrounded by the people he loves most on the planet, the residents of Queensbridge.

Earlier in the day Artest was awarded a Citation from the City of New York and a Community Recognition Award from the residents of Queensbridge then was asked to say a short speech in acceptance of the dual awards. The most poignant momen of the speech? When Artest proclaimed, "This community recognition award means more to me than anything because it was given to me by you guys."

Later, as Ron paraded to the barbecue from the Jacob Riis Settlement House where the award ceremony was held with his daughter on his shoulders, his son at his side and the people he loves most in the world doggedly in pursuit of their community hero, I stopped to take a peek at the expression on Ron's face. Pure elation. If that isn't making it in the world, I don't know what is.


I thought it was a very good read, not because it's about artest, but i like how he get's in touch with the home he grew up in. Which brings me a question to all of you. Otherwise this would belong in the lakers forum ;).

Question: Players like Lebron, MJ, Kobe, and many others don't really get in touch with the people or the place they grew up in that made them who they are today. Say you were a basketball star in the NBA, how often would you travel back to the place you grew up in? As often as Artest does? A lot? Sometimes? Rarely? Or not at all? If basketball star does not suit you, perhaps you could also be a famous businessman, or whatever job you have that involves a lot of traveling and big income.

07-16-2010, 07:32 PM
Lakers forum.