Saturday, December 25, 2010
Updated: December 29, 8:25 PM ET
Hawthorne man wins Ron Artest's ring
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Lakers forward Ron Artest didn't particularly feel like a champion on Christmas Day, losing 96-80 to the Miami Heat.
But one of his fans certainly did.
Raymond Mikhael of Hawthorne, Calif. was selected to win a raffle for Artest's 2010 Lakers championship ring. Mikhael was presented with the ring at a night club across the street from Staples Center at a reception hosted by Artest and actor and comedian George Lopez after the Lakers game.
"I got the call this morning and was skeptical but realized after I spoke to Ron's publicist Heidi Busch that it was real ... I actually won his championship ring," said Mikhael. "I was overjoyed, ecstatic, blessed and thankful. All I could think that this was just a great 'life' present on Christmas Day."
The raffle ran since October and raised more than $650,000 to be distributed to various mental health charities. Artest recently donated $50,000 to Pacific Clinics and the Kresge Foundation tripled his donation by pledging an additional $150,000 in grant money distributed via the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health to the clinic.
"It's a good feeling," Artest said about the raffle being over. "It's cool to know we can slowly start donating money to different charities and things like that. It's cool."
Before the game against the Heat, Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said he purchased tickets for the raffle.
"I like to see those things to not just have a splash but to actually do something ... and give the people who need it," Jackson said.
"Oh wow, that's amazing," Artest said of Jackson supporting the cause. "He's hungry [for another championship ring]. He's pretty determined. I don't think he's satisfied."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.