MANILA, Philippines — For Metta World Peace, the idea of his son suiting up for a national team is a fulfillment of a dream he once desired.
“I was never invited to play in the Olympics. They said that they didn’t need a player like myself in the team. That was tough for me,” he told a handful of reporters at a small gathering in a restaurant in Bonifacio Global City.
“Anytime your kid gets a chance to play for the national team, I do feel like it’s special,” added the former Los Angeles Lakers forward, which was formerly known as Ron Artest.
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World Peace, who won an NBA championship with the purple and gold in 2010 and was named as an All-Star in 2004, went on to share that while he is not directly involved with his son’s bid, he continues to provide insights from distanc.
In a report by Spin.ph on Saturday, World Peace said that his son has started the process of obtaining a Philippine passport. Per FIBA rules, athletes who wish to represent their other country of nationality should be able to secure the document before turning 16 years old.
The younger Artest is World Peace’s son with his Filipina high school girlfriend Jennifer Palma. The pair were in the Philippines two years ago for a one-week trip to explore the capital.
“My son has been coming over to the Philippines and he’s very motivated,” World Peace said. “He’s working very hard.”
“I told him it doesn’t mean that you’re my son is that you can play basketball in America, or you can play anywhere in the world or you’ll get to any team,” he continued. “You have to earn it.”
Once known as an enforcer in the NBA, World Peace also shared that his son has been doing well in academics, earning offers from Ivy League schools such as Yale University.
“He can also play in Division I college also,” he said. “Very smart kid, I’m so proud of him, and I hope it all works out.. He’s very motivated. He definitely wants to be on the (Philippine national team).”
“I’m more on the background — when he wants the information or he’s down in a game, he could call me. I try not to get involved too much. If they need me, I’m there. If they don’t, it’s OK. I’ll support him,” World Peace offered.
The former Lakers forward also noted that Palma’s camp has been doing the “reaching out” part of Jeron’s bid to play for the Philippines.
“If they’re gonna be in touch with anybody, that’s probably his mom,” World Peace said. “My son’s mom is a great mom. He would’ve not gone this far without his mother.”
“And his stepdad is doing a really good job. We’re lucky to have people in his life that really care about him,” the 37-year-old cager ended.