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Metta World Peace asks LA students to 'take five' for mental health

Hayley Fox/KPCC

Metta World Peace wearing the "Titans" scarf and beanie given to him by the Edward Roybal Learning Center. He spoke about tackling mental health issues in youth and adults.

The soft-spoken but quotable Lakers' forward Metta World Peace addressed a gymnasium full of high school students Thursday morning and encouraged them to be bold, work hard and confront mental health issues head-on. He used his own internal struggles as examples -- and shared a piece of advice his own counselor gave him.

"First, I had to learn about myself," he told youngsters at the Edward Roybal Learning Center near downtown. "Why I am the way I am."

The athelete formerly known as Ron Artest said the kids have a "golden opportunity" to nip their issues in the bud and encouraged them to take advantage of resources like teachers and school counselors.

"The more you address things now the better you are for the future," World Peace said.

The outspoken star candidly shared stories of his high school struggles: He had a quick temper, got a failing 820 on his SAT's the first time he took them, and had a baby at 16 years old, he said. As a child, he saw his own family struggle with depression and anxiety and to this day, cites his parents' seperation as the most difficult thing he's ever had to overcome.