Artest's attorney filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday seeking the change. The 31-year-old NBA star was born Ronald William Artest Jr.
In the court documents, Artest cites personal reasons for wanting to make the change. The LA Times has the papers, and we've included a sampling below:
“My understanding is ‘Metta’ will be his first name and ‘World Peace’ will be his last,” Lakers spokesman John Black told the Times. He added that Artest has not filed the necessary paperwork with the NBA to change the name on the back of his jersey.
An Aug. 26 court date was set to consider the name-change petition.
Artest's career has been filled with ups and downs. He helped the Lakers win the NBA championship a year ago and in April he received an award for outstanding service and dedication to the community.
He has testified before Congress to support mental health legislation.
Artest may be best known for triggering the most notorious brawl in NBA history when he jumped into the stands and attacked a fan while playing for the Indiana Pacers in November 2004. He was suspended for the rest of that season.
Artest wouldn't be the first NBA player to make a change to an unusual name.
Lloyd Bernard Free, who played in the league from 1975-88, had his first name legally changed to World in 1981. A friend had given him the nickname because of his 44-inch vertical leaps and 360-degree dunks.
In the NFL, Cincinnati Bengals star Chad Johnson legally changed his last name to Ochocinco in August 2008. The name means "eight five" in Spanish. However, he did announce earlier this year that he plans on changing it back.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.