To this day, many still view Metta Sandiford-Artest, formerly Ron Artest, as a bad boy. Some even think he's borderline mentally unstable. However, only a few were aware of the extent of his mental health problems that he carried on until he made it to the NBA. The Chicago Bulls, the team that drafted Sandiford-Artest in 1999, were among them, so they made him undergo medication on the team's watch.
The Bulls wanted to ensure Ron was okay
According to Sandiford-Artest, he and his family began counseling when he was 13 years old to cope with the trauma caused by his parent's separation. During some background checking, Metta, who was Ron at the time, divulged the medical history of his family.
As expected, it became somewhat of a chip on Artest's shoulder. And when he started getting into trouble on the court, the Bulls, having noticed his potential as a player, tried to prevent the worse. The team resorted to making him take medicine just like his father.
"I was getting in a lot of trouble in Chicago [after I was drafted by the Bulls]. I was doing crazy sh*t," Sandiford-Artest told GQ in 2019. "[The team] asked, 'Is anybody in your family on medication?' I said, 'My dad.' Then they gave me half the dosage my dad was getting. But I couldn't do it. The first time I took the medicine, it made me feel really awkward, and I never took it again. They were like, 'Did you take your medicine today.' I was like, 'Yeah, I took my medicine.' I just threw that sh*t in the toilet, man. I ain't taking that sh*t. I couldn't deal with it."
Getting back on track
After a few years of dealing with his mental health dilemma, Artest, as well as the Bulls, learned through diagnosis that it was depression. No matter what Sandiford-Artest did, it seemed like trouble had its way of coming into him. But the good thing was, the man wanted to get better.
"Back in those days, you think alcohol or marijuana can help," Sandiford-Artest reflected. "Instead of having an occasional drink, you're doing it as a therapeutic thing. If you're drinking, thinking that's going to solve a problem, you're making it 20 times worse. For me, getting my first check, it highlighted how I was really feeling. It was spent on things to suppress certain feelings. Going out, clubbing, drinking."
By the time Sandiford-Artest won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers, he was already being treated by a psychologist. Regardless of the details of his case, Metta was still discriminated against by the public. He was ruthlessly branded as crazy. At first, Sandiford-Artest was mad about it until he stopped caring about what people think.
He stressed, "I got tired of worrying about it. I just didn't care anymore."