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LA Lakers Ron Artest Files for Legal Name Change

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NBA player Ron Artest, of the Los Angeles Lakers, filed a petition on Thursday in the Los Angeles Superior Court requesting a legal name change.  The Lakers forward, (31 years old), wants to change his name from Ronald William Artest Jr. to Metta World Peace.  Artest cited personal reasons to justify the request of his name change in the court documents.

The petition for a legal name change was first reported by TMZ.  “Metta” means peace or happiness in Pali, a language of the Indian subcontinent.  Artest wants “Metta” to be on the back of his  jersey if his petition is approved.  The legal name change has to be approved by a judge but name changes have a very high likelihood of being approved.  The petition will be denied or approved on Aug. 26th.

Artest is infamous for initiating the most notorious fight in NBA history.  Artest provoked a fan while playing for the Indiana Pacers when he jumped into the audience and attacked an innocent bystander in November 2004.

However, Artest has redeemed himself since then by being a part of the Lakers winning the NBA championship last year.  And most recently, he was recognized and given an award for outstanding service to the community in April 2011.

Los Angeles Lakers’ manager Mitch Kupchak commented on Artest’s planned name change by saying, “It brought a smile to my face. It’s been done before … So, other than that, I don’t really have a comment. I’m an advocate of world peace.”

Artest is not the only professional athlete who has chosen to change his name.  Lloyd Bernard Free, who played in the NBA from 1975-1988 for the San Diego Clippers, Philadelphia 76ers, Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets, had his first name legally changed to World.  Free was known as the “Prince of Midair” as well as “All-World.”  And a friend nicknamed him World because of his 44-inch vertical leaps and 360-degree dunks causing his legal name change.

Born Cassius Clay, Muhammad Ali changed his name after joining the nation of Islam and converting to Islam.  Similarly, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also changed his name when converting to Islam, originally born with the name Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.

Probably the most famous name change would have to go to the NFL player, Chad Johnson from the Cincinnati Bengals who legally changed his last name to Ochocinco in August 2008.  Ochocinco means “85” (the number on his jersey) in Spanish.

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