New foundation will help mentally ill

The friends and family of a mentally ill musician featured in Los Angeles Times columns launched a foundation Wednesday to help other mentally ill people. KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez has the story.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: An upcoming film staring Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx is based on the real-life story of Nathaniel Antony Ayers, a Julliard-trained musician who ended up homeless.

L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez began writing about the violinist almost four years ago – since then, he's also written a book.

Steve Lopez: I learned about courage, I learned about hope, I learned about classical music, which I knew nothing about. And here's my tutor, a guy I met living out of a shopping cart sleeping on skid row.

Guzman-Lopez: Jennifer Ayers-Moore, Ayers' sister, says she helped establish the foundation in memory of their mother, who'd always struggled. She says the newspaper columns, the Hollywood film, and the foundation have helped her brother.

Jennifer Ayers-Moore: With him being schizophrenic it's difficult to say to him something about mental illness, schizophrenia, because as you know, that's something they deny for a long time. He is actually now, because of all of this, beginning to acknowledge that in his own mind, and that's huge.

Guzman-Lopez: The Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation will support art programs for mentally ill people. The California Endowment announced it's donating $95,000 to the foundation.