Lakers star Ron Artest becomes Metta World Peace

Fri Sep 16, 2011 4:13pm EDT
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles Lakers star formerly known as Ron Artest officially became Metta World Peace on Friday when a Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner approved the name change.

World Peace, who will spend his off-season competing on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," was granted the change just in time for the show's season premiere on Monday night after clearing up lingering traffic ticket warrants.

"Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world. After this short delay, my tickets have been paid and I'm glad that it's now official," World Peace said in a written statement.

World Peace was not in court for the hearing, but was represented by an attorney.

A publicist for World Peace, Courtney Barnes, said the name change would require the Lakers defender to obtain a new driver's license, passport and other official documents but would not affect his contract with the team.

The former Ronald William Artest, 31, will sport the new name on the back of his Lakers jersey starting next season.

"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," Barnes said. "Metta World Peace felt just right."

World Peace is considered one of the NBA's premiere defenders and was named Defensive Player of the Year for the 2003-2004 season.   Continued...

<p>Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest reacts in the first half against the Phoenix Suns during Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals in Phoenix, Arizona May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson</p>