Politics, government and public life for Southern California

Norwalk Democrat recruits Lakers star for gun violence prevention

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A California Democrat on Capitol Hill has recruited L.A. Lakers forward Metta World Peace to help lobby for a mental health bill.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano has been pushing for years for federal funding for mental health services in schools. She says, somehow, "we need to start the ball rolling."

The Norwalk Democrat has enlisted a man who knows something about moving the ball down the court. The former Ron Artest, who says he’s been in counseling since he was 13, is an outspoken advocate for seeking mental health services. He says he wants people to know "it's okay if you need help."

Napolitano’s bill would provide grants for school-based, free mental health services to students K-12. It's part of a package of measures backed by House Democrats to try to reduce gun violence.

World Peace, who came to Washington after the Lakers’ home game Thursday night, says the issue hits home for many athletes. He says it's "definitely a topic of discussion" among NBA players because "a lot of athletes grew up in violent neighborhoods." He says "it’s something that we wish we could change."

Napolitano says the challenge is finding the $200 million in mental health funding included in her bill. Al Franken has sponsored a similar measure  in the U.S. Senate. 

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