Metta Sandiford-Artest, also known as Metta World Peace, is a former NBA player that traded his basketball for a business focused on taking athletes, and their companies, to the next level.
Sandiford-Artest founded Artest Management Group in 2014 in Beverly Hills, California with the goal of helping athletes navigate the many sectors of sports business, including tax preparation, smart investments and brand collaborations.
His company also supports start-ups, celebrities, brands operating in the sports industry, eCommerce, entertainment, and technology industries.
Some of the group’s early brand collaborations were with Planet Based Foods as well as publicly traded companies, Charge Enterprise and PBF Energy INC.
While his central goal is to serve athletes, Sandiford-Artest was happy to discover interest from various professionals across industries.
“We have some really cool investors from the L.A. Times to NBA players and influencers,” he said.
It’s key for the former athlete to help athletes across sports platforms gain financial education and freedom, but his goals haven’t always been easy to achieve.
CHALLENGES DOWN THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
While Artest Management Group continues to flourish, the former Chicago Bull had to work hard for this professional slam dunk.
Before building his legacy as a basketball player who honed the sport for 19 seasons in the NBA, Sandiford-Artest was a young man shooting hoops in the Queensbridge projects in Queens, New York.
Sandiford-Artest was born on November 13, 1979 as Ronald William Artest Jr., but changed his name to Metta World Peace from 2011 to 2020 as a new persona for his basketball career.
He grew up with two younger brothers named Daniel and Isaiah and enjoyed playing basketball at La Salle Academy.
Before he knew he was destined to be a famous NBA player, he was just an ordinary teenager that enjoyed sports with his friends.
He joined the Amateur Athletic Union team with other future NBA icons, including Los Angeles Clippers player, Lamar Odom and Chicago Bulls player, Elton Brand.
Like Sandiford-Artest, all of them would go onto play for many noteworthy NBA teams throughout their careers.
With that said, his journey wasn’t always marked by a winning streak. As a young player, he witnessed something he never forgot.
As a youth, he saw his friend and fellow player, 19-year-old Lloyd Newton, being killed on the basketball court during a tournament in Niagara Falls, New York.
“I remember one time it was, one of my friends I was playing basketball with was winning the game. It was so competitive, they broke the leg from the table and threw it, and it went right through his heart, and he died right on the court,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2009.
“So, I’m accustomed to playing basketball really rough. I’m used to fighting on the court.
Basketball was a complex part of his life, but he chose to keep pressing forward despite the traumatic experience.
He played college basketball at St. John’s University from 1997 to 1999 and majored in mathematics.
Eventually, he gained popularity in New York City after playing in big name Summer basketball tournaments, including the Nike Pro City tournament in Manhattan.
His life changed forever in 1999 when he was offered a spot with the Chicago Bulls in the NBA draft.
He went on to play for some of the most iconic teams in the industry, like the Indiana Pacers, the Sacramento Kings, Houston Rockets, and the Los Angeles Lakers.
It wasn’t always easy to leave his past behind him, as the NBA rookie found himself being suspended from three games in 2003 after he broke a TV camera in Madison Square Garden.
There were also a series of other antics and brawls that required disciplinary action, but he never lost sight of his dreams.
His fame extended beyond the basketball court to the television screen. In 2010, Sandiford-Artest helped to produce and develop his own reality TV show, called “They Call Me Crazy” through E1 Entertainment.
He was also on the thirteenth season of “Dancing with the Stars,” appeared in Comedy Central’s “Key and Peele” for a sketch called “Metta World News” and appeared in an episode of “Lip Sync Battle” among other TV appearances.
His love of rap led him to release a rap album called “My World” in 2006 with Lightyear Records and he launched Artest Media Group in 2010, a brand management company that supports music artists.
He advocated for mental health issues and announced in 2010 that he’d donate money from his 2011-2012 NBA season to mental health charities.
GOING IN A NEW DIRECTION
With basketball being so central to his entire life, going from athletics to data analytics was a daunting ball toss.
“We had many challenges from logistics compliance to anything technical, business planning, business modeling. Different things like that were super challenging not having it set when I first started business,” Sandiford-Artest said.
“Now, we have things in place like our data strategy.”
As with many other industries, he also found it tricky to meet the right people and form connections with the power players in the investment world.
“I remember going to New York and saying, ‘I’m going to stay on Wall Street. I’m going to eat on Wall Street, go to Equinox on Wall Street, walk around Wall Street, go to a hotel on Wall Street,’ because I was just trying to meet somebody on Wall Street to talk business, and I didn’t have any connections, even though I’m from New York,” he said.
He felt that people looked at him differently as a newcomer and he realized that he’d need a more casual approach to entering the industry.
His strategy of having “good conversations” inspired Wall Street investors to want to keep in contact, which made room for him to learn the tricks of the trade.
Even now that Artest Management Group is thriving, the athlete turned businessman continually works to expand his network with those that share a similar work ethic.
“I think some of the biggest learning is letting people work, not over-managing,”
He’s learned a great deal from being a CEO, including taking his time.
He added that it’s vital to build “an architect or foundation for your business before you start.”
PAYING IT FORWARD FOR THE FUTURE
Seeing the growth of his company hasn’t been the only reward for Metta World Peace, it’s also been fulfilling to see his portfolio companies succeed too.
“One company I really love is called EZ Care Link. It’s led by a lady named Jayhan Edu. She’s a founder from the Philippines, came here with humble beginnings, and we were able to accelerate her company from 1.5 million revenue to approaching 10 million in revenue and continuing to grow,” he said.
Supporting a female founder in a majority male industry was important to Sandiford-Artest, even when he was just making a name for his own business. Through meeting people, being a team player and investing both monetarily and emotionally, he found the next big chapter in his life after basketball.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking. I remember the first day I was officially retired after the last game we played against the Golden State Warriors. I remember being home and being worried like, ‘man, what am I going to do? I want to be a head coach. I want to do this, I want to do that.’ I’m like, ‘oh, my goodness,’ I panicked for a day,”
His anxiety ran high as he tried to imagine what his life would look like. He ultimately decided that whatever he chose couldn’t take him too far from his family again.
He contemplated coaching, rapping, doing the Series 7 General Securities Representative Exam among other options, but his heart always came back to being an entrepreneur.
So, he decided to attend UCLA for digital analytics to eventually go into digital marketing.
He also delved further into the social media scene.
“I took to social media, even though I kind of knew it, but didn’t really understand it,” he said.
He took business analytics coursework at Concordia University in Irvine, California as well to pursue his dream of building companies and then selling them.
That meant getting involved with various agencies, like omnichannel trading company, Audience X, and digital marketing company, Hawke Media.
He was sure to meet with company founders and learn as much as he could about the ins and outs of the market.
“I really do have endurance for this. I wanted to make sure that I had the endurance to continue to run mentally versus running physically. When I didn’t get burnt out, I said, ‘wow, I really like it, so I’m just going to keep doing it until I succeed.’”
LETTING SOME THINGS GO
From his legacy as a basketball player to becoming a coach for the Lakers and then playing on rapper Ice Cube’s offseason 3×3 league called the BIG3–World Peace had a lot to say goodbye to.
“A lot of people see me as the basketball player, so they ask me to do stuff,” he said.
“The problem is, every time I do something, take pictures or whatever–I’m not saying it’s a bad thing–but it takes away from where my mind is at. Even if somebody offered me 100 grand, 50 grand, whatever, if I got to get on a plane and travel and do all this stuff, then it’s taking me from learning about my business. Some people used to get upset, whatever, think I was bougie. I’m not bougie. I’m like the non bougiest person,”
Deciding to put his company first helps him “stay focused” and he finds happiness in not being labeled as just one kind of person.
Regardless of which facet of his business he’s concentrating on, Sandiford-Artest is firmly grounded in his work.
SEEING THE BIG PICTURE
While he’s left his life as an athlete in the past, the 43-year-old ensures that his family remains a core part of his life, and part of the company.
“My company is a family run business, in terms of our corporation, it is not only family, but the core is family. I was trying to figure out, ‘how can I spend time with my family and spend time on servicing other businesses?’.”
Sandiford-Artest found the answer to the overwhelming question of what came next in his life through a desire to help his loved ones and others while also helping himself.
From social impact initiatives to new brand collaborations, he’s always thinking of the next expert strategy.
While basketball and business may seem like opposites, Sandiford-Artest sees how the both parts of his life compliment each other.
“I played basketball, literally, that’s all I had to go on in terms of what type of business I wanted to run and how I wanted to run my business. When I first started, I could only refer to basketball. Like, do it together, play with a team,” he said.
Whether it’s dribbling toward the next three-pointer or mastering search analytics for a portfolio company, Sandiford-Artest is proud of being a former professional athlete that has a wealth of both passion and information to also achieve the highest level of success in the business world.