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Sports

Metta’s Fil-Am son quits hoops

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

For two seasons, Metta World Peace’s Fil-Am son Jeron Artest played with the University of California at Irvine varsity in D-1 basketball. His stats were far from all-star numbers as he averaged 2.8 points as a freshman in 2019-20 and 4.0 points as a sophomore in 2020-21. Artest’s career highs included 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Then, he decided to quit hoops.

Artest, 21, transferred to the University of Southern California and enrolled in the School of Cinematic Arts to pursue a career as a creator, producer, game designer, software engineer, entrepreneur and investor. He recently established Test Jar Labs, a web3 tech and games studio. Artest is an intern at Griffin Gaming Partners, a leading venture capital firm focused on investing in the global gaming market. When he graduates from USC, Artest will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in interactive entertainment.

“My passion for basketball and video games was sparked almost at the same time but my love for video games probably came first,” said Artest in a University of California at Irvine student spotlight article. “I used to play a lot of Vtech and Leap Frog games when I was a kid. And I remember playing NBA 2K3 on PS2.”

Artest’s father Ron, who legally changed his name to Metta World Peace then to Metta Sandiford-Artest, was recently in town to attend the EASL inaugural season’s drawing ceremony. The former NBA star said although his son has left college basketball, he’d like for him to someday play for Gilas. Artest’s mother is Jennifer Palma, a Filipina. There was an attempt by SBP to enlist Artest as a future Gilas prospect but his mother was referred to the Philippine consulate in Chicago to apply for a passport before turning 16 and it was never done.

Metta, 42, described his son as “a smart kid” and proficient in sports, including golf, volleyball and soccer. Because his son is a Fil-Am, Metta said he has a special place in his heart for the Philippines. “I’ve visited thrice and I remember, the first time I came, before landing, I looked out of my airplane window and saw all these tall buildings,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect when I came and I was impressed. I know basketball is the No. 1 sport in the Philippines and Filipinos love it with a passion.” When EASL CEO Matt Beyer invited Metta to be a league ambassador, he accepted in a snap. Metta said EASL’s vision is to become one of the world’s top three basketball leagues within three years and he believes it will happen.

Metta said operating his own XvsX Sports league in Van Nuys, a Los Angeles neighborhood, keeps him busy all year round. “I’m a Lakers fan but I played my best years with Indiana and my favorite team was Chicago growing up,” he said. “I know the Lakers new coach Darvin Ham who once played in the PBA. If I’m invited to join his coaching staff, that’s an option.”

Metta recalled in a visit to Manila with his son in 2019, they played basketball barefoot with kids in a tenement on a cement court. “We took off our shoes because we played with kids who were barefoot or wearing flipflops,” he said. “Jeron ended up with sores and blisters on his feet and the next day, he played terrible in a game with Jalen Green. But he loved the experience and he’ll never forget the Philippines.”

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