Ron Artest, a forward for the Los Angeles Lakers, said that he wasn't interested in joining "Dancing With The Stars" until his 8-year-old daughter Diamond reminded him of a good cause.
"When I was first had the opportunity to do 'Dancing With The Stars,' I wasn't going to do it but my daughter said 'Daddy, you should do it,'" Artest told OnTheRedCarpet.com. "She had cancer when she was four, so I said, 'Okay, how about I just dance for cancer?' So, all of my profits are going to go to cancer research."
Artest, a 31-year-old professional basketball player and rapper, is one of 12 contestants announced on Monday as the cast of the upcoming 13th season of the ABC ballroom dancing series, which is set to premiere on September 19 on ABC.
Artest might have to be quick on his feet on the basketball courts, but he claims that his dancing skills aren't up to par just yet.
"I have no rhythm, my hips are horrible. You know, I've been playing defense for what, the last thirteen years? I've been in that stance for so long that my hips aren't working anymore. Hopefully, this will get me back," Artest said. "Dancing is hard, I was trying to do a dance class and I can't really move. My feet were going left to right when they were supposed to be going right to left!"
The 6 foot 7 inch tall basket ball player is already proving to be a challenge to the "Dancing With The Stars" costume department.
"I think I might do mine shoeless. I want to do mine in heels, like Prince," Artest joked. "[I'm] a size 16, so my first few couple rehearsal classes, I had on my balling shoes or I had to wear sneakers and I stepped on her toes one time... I tripped and stepped on her toes, she had to ice her little pinky toe today. I felt so bad, I kissed her pinky toe. It's on camera too, I kissed it."
Artest majored in mathematics at St. John's University and began his NBA career with the Chicago Bulls. In 2009, he signed a 5-year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers for an estimated $33 million.
"I'm going to have a lot of good, entertaining things going on," Artest said. "Like, nobody knew I was going to take my shirt off [during the cast announcement], the only reason I put it back on is that my nipples were hard and it was cold, so had to put it back on."
The cast and dancing partner pairings were announced on August 31. Artest will be dancing with Peta Murgatroyd, who appeared on the season 12 Dance Troupe. Murgatroyd was born in New Zealand, but grew up in Perth, Australia and has been dancing since she was 4 years old.
"You want to know who my partner is? Her name is I can't tell you," Artest joked before the partner announcement was made. "But she's awesome and she's hot. She's spicy and we're having a really great time and I'm ready to give her a big kiss, or something like that too. We're gonna have fun!"
On June 23, Artest made headlines after filing a petition in L.A. County Superior Court to change his name to Metta World Peace. According to the Los Angeles Times, the petition was put on hold until Artest pays outstanding traffic warrants. His court date is scheduled for September 16.
The NBA locked out its players in July, when its collective bargaining agreement expired and the pro sports league was shut down. It is unclear whether Artest would bow out of "Dancing With The Stars" if the NBA were to strike a deal, reps for the network said he would "cross that bridge if and when he comes to it."
"Dancing with the Stars" returns with a two-hour season premiere for Season 13 on Monday, Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
ABC is the parent company of OnTheRedCarpet.com.
Reporting by George Pennacchio of KABC Television, parent company of OnTheRedCarpet.com that also produces the entertainment show "On The Red Carpet" (check for local TV listings).