Ron Artest's name change to Metta World Peace approved
This March 25, 2011 file photo shows Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest celebrating after dunking the ball during the first half of their NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers, in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ron Artest's bid to become Mr. World Peace was delayed, but not denied.
A court commissioner granted the Lakers forward's request to officially change his name to Metta World Peace on Friday, three weeks after the bid was blocked because Artest had unpaid traffic tickets.
Artest, 31, did not attend a brief hearing Friday.
Superior court spokeswoman Patricia Kelly said that Artest's new last name will be World Peace.
His publicist, Courtney Barnes, said the player chose Metta because it is a traditional Buddhist word that means loving and kindness toward all.
"Changing my name was meant to inspire and bring youth together all around the world," World Peace said in a statement released after the hearing. "After this short delay, my tickets have been paid and I'm glad that it is now official."
He requested the change in June, citing only personal reasons. He is scheduled to appear on the next season of "Dancing With the Stars."
Barnes wrote in an email that World Peace will now have to get a new driver's license to reflect his new name, but the switch won't affect his contracts with the Lakers or any endorsement deals.
Artest helped the Lakers win an NBA title in 2010 and in April he received an award for outstanding service and dedication to the community.
He has testified before Congress to support mental health legislation.
Artest isn't the first athlete to adopt an unusual name.
Lloyd Bernard Free, a professional basketball player who played in the league from 1975-88, had his first name legally changed to World in 1981. A friend had given him the nickname because of his 44-inch vertical leaps and 360-degree dunks.
In the NFL, wide receiver Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to Ochocinco in August 2008 to reflect his jersey number. The name means "eight five" in Spanish. Ochocinco is now with the New England Patriots.