They may not be Lakers anymore, but Metta World Peace and Trevor Ariza have kept a connection to the community in Los Angeles and continue to give back.
After coming up playing high school basketball at Westchester High School in Los Angeles, Ariza decided to help support and honor young athletes in the city by hosting an annual celebrity game and awards ceremony.
Unfortunately, despite organizing the event along with The Powerhouse Agency, Ariza himself was unable to attend due to a mandatory team camp that was put on by his current team, the Houston Rockets.
Still, the two-day event went well, and World Peace helped by lending his star power to the show, and former Laker Nick Young was in attendance. The following press release described the scene:
Sponsored by Cabeau, TIGIT and Banc of California, the 3rd annual celebrity basketball game was held at Taft Charter High School in Woodland Hills this past weekend. This year’s game was co-hosted by NBA Player Metta World Peace. Due to a mandatory organized team camp by Houston Rockets, Trevor was unable to attend his annual game; however, Celebrity Entrepreneur Tai Lopez stepped in and served as the coach for Team Trevor against Team Metta.
Even with the summer heat over 102 in the valley on Saturday, fans still came out and packed out the gym to see their favorite celebs play in the game. Over 100 Kids from YMCA and Project Fly organizations were given the VIP treatment to the game with VIP tickets, lunch from Blaqhaus and meet & greet with the players. The game started off with Team Metta in the lead and as it looked like the game was over in the 4th quarter, it was Team Ariza/Lopez that turned the game around and finished the game with a win of 64-59.
The following day on July 9th, The Ariza Elevated Game Awards ceremony took place at the Hilton Hotel in Universal City. Hosted by NBA TV Host Ro Parrish, eight awards, scholarships (by Cabeau Travel) and letterman jackets (by M&B Athletic Apparel) were awarded in different sports categories to senior male and female high school recipients who have excelled in athletics and academics while overcoming tumultuous life challenges.
Lakers fans will surely note the irony in Ariza and World Peace coaching against each other in Los Angeles. Ariza helped the Lakers win a championship in 2009, but he explored the free agent market that summer, and while he did so, the Lakers signed Houston Rockets free agent World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) to take over as the team’s starting small forward. Strangely enough, with the Rockets needing to replace Artest, they turned to Ariza, who signed a long-term deal there.
Both players ultimately helped bring championships to Los Angeles, and it’s great to see them still involved in the community even though neither actively plays for the Lakers at this stage in their careers.