Born Ronald William Artest Jr. on Nov. 13, 1979, in Queensbridge, New York, Artest is the father of four children. He was signed to a five-year contract by the LA Lakers as a free agent on July 8, 2009 and has been playing professional basketball in the NBA since 1999. He was selected to the 2005-06 NBA’s All-Defensive Team, was voted by the media as 2003-04 NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, and was the only man with 271 steals in his first two seasons in the NBA, breaking Michael Jordan’s record. He won his first NBA World Championship with the LA Lakers in June, 2010.
Artest played high school basketball at La Salle Academy and college basketball at St. John’s University from 1997-1999, majoring in mathematics. He gained fame playing in some of New York City’s high profile summer basketball tournaments at Nike Pro City, Hoops in the Sun at Orchard Beach, Bronx, NY and Dyckman Park at Washington Heights. He earned himself nicknames such as Tru Warier and The New World Order, a name he received from Randy Cruz. Artest was named a McDonald’s All-American as well as the Co-Player of the Year in New York City and the State of New York as a high school senior at La Salle Academy. He teamed with Elton Brand and Lamar Odom on the same AAU team as a teenager.
Artest was selected by the Chicago Bulls as the 16th pick of the 1999 NBA Draft. In his career he has also played for the Indiana Pacers, Saramento Kings, Houston Rockets, and now the Los Angeles Lakers. Artest won his first World Championship ring on June 17th, 2010, after the Lakers defeated the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals.
Artest has remained an active contributor in his hometown and in the cities of organizations for which he has played, working simultaneously in global regions that require urgent humanitarian aid. He formed a nonprofit in August 2007, entitled “Xcel Universtity,” to officially organize and streamline his charitable contributions and community endeavors under one umbrella.
Artest joined a contingent of representatives from the NBA Players Association and the Feed the Children program on a goodwill mission to Africa in July 2007, helping to distribute more than one million meals to impoverished areas in Nairobi as part of the NBPA’s “Feeding One Million” campaign. He reunited with the Feed the Children program for a mission to Central America in August 2007, delivering rations and supplies to deprived areas throughout Honduras. Artest paid for the costs of setting up an HIV testing clinic for Project Contact Africa in Nairobi, Kenya in 2007, and in 2008 made another donation to pay for HIV testing supplies and the salaries of lab technicians for the year.
Artest became a spokesman in the PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) A.B.C. (Animal Birth Control) campaign in 2007, which is ongoing today. He sponsored a spay and neutering program of Pit Bulls at the Sacramento chapter of the SPCA, personally covering all costs for each pet owner, and is a celebrity supporter of Best Friends Animal Society. In the fall of 2008, Ron launched “The Artest Math Masters” program at Felix Cook Jr. Elementary School in partnership with the Houston Independent School District, which rewarded students who maintained high grades in Mathematics during the 2008-2009 school year.
In fall 2010, Artest decided to raffle off his 2010 NBA World Championship Ring, with the proceeds going to his nonprofit, Xcel University. The online ring raffle, which concluded on December 25, 2010, raised $651,006. Funds raised through the ring raffle were earmarked to be donated to nonprofits that provide mental health therapists and services to those who wouldn’t be able to otherwise afford them.
Artest has visited dozens of community centers, schools and libraries in low income areas of numerous cities throughout his career, speaking to kids about the virtues of education and a life devoid of violence and drugs, and on the importance of getting a college education. He has played in several Wheelchair Charities, Inc. Basketball Classics in New York City, which raises funding to assist paraplegic, quadriplegic and amputee patients. He sponsors summer basketball tournaments in the Queensbridge Projects in New York City; sends kids from Queensbridge to summer camps; and pays tuition for kids from Queensbridge who show academic promise to attend private schools.
Cristela Alonzo is the cocreator, coexecutive producer and star of the ABC sitcom, “Cristela,” an achievement which caps a whirlwind year. Cristela rose to fame in the world of standup and has since topped multiple comedy power player lists including "Variety's Top 10 Comics to Watch," "Top 10 Comedy Acts to Watch in 2014" by LA Weekly, Cosmo Latina's "8 Women You Should be Following on Twitter," Time Out's "Comics to Watch," Cosmo's "13 Female Comedians to Watch For in 2014," and "One of the 50 Comedians You Should and WILL Know" by Vulture.com.
Cristela recently made a deal with Comedy Central to release her debut CD, “Some of the Hits,” this fall. "The Half Hour," her first half hour special in Boston, premiered in June 2013 on Comedy Central to rave reviews. Cristela has also made appearances on “The View,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” "Conan,” Gabriel Iglesias' "Stand Up Revolution," Showtime's "Legally Brown," "Last Comic Standing" and "Live at Gotham." In addition, she performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal.
One of the most popular standup comedians in the college market, she showcased at the NACA (National Association of Campus Activities) national convention in Charlotte, NC, and was the most requested act of the convention. In the past three years, she has performed for almost 300 colleges.
Originally from San Juan, Texas—Cristela is based in Los Angeles, and when not on the road, can be found performing at various area clubs, including her home club The Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach.
“CRISTELA” on ABC: http://abc.go.com/shows/cristela
For more information, go to www.cristelaalonzo.com
Jerrod Carmichael is an LA based standup and performer originally from Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He was featured last year in Variety as being one of the top ten comics to watch, as well as being one of the New Faces at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival. He recurred on Fox’s The Goodwin Games and can be seen in Universal’s upcoming feature Townies. Jerrod is currently working on an untitled comedy pilot for NBC that he wrote and will star in and produce.
Jerrod is a regular around some of LA’s favorite standup shows, including Meltdown, The Improv, Laugh Factory and many alternative rooms.
If the adage is true — that tragedy plus time equals comedy — then Ryan Sickler has paid his dues on the left side of the equation. Born in Baltimore, Ryan lost his father when he was 16. After that, he bounced from one relative to another. And while his early years might have seemed rocky, that tumultuous childhood gave him both fodder for material and armor against the relentless onslaught that is life as a standup comic.
His television appearances include The Pete HolmesShow, Comedy Central’s Tosh.O, Live At Gotham, Cutman and The Late Late Show.
Beyond standup, Ryan Sickler is an engaging storyteller. You can catch him every Tuesday (Toozdee) on his podcast, The CrabFeast. Inspired by his hometown, the show celebrates the things Ryan loves most — storytelling, family, friends and laughter.
Straight out of our nations capitol, Jay Phillips is one of the funniest comedians in the country. Known for his intelligent humor and presence on stage, his story telling has been compared to the greats of past and present. His quick wit and likable personality landed him a spot on one of Baltimore's more successful radio morning shows. That success led him to being named Baltimore's Comedian of the year, after winning the award in Washington DC the year prior. Crafting his skill on the road performing at clubs and colleges in every state in the country gained Jay a wide variety of fans.
After moving to Los Angeles Jays' career continued gaining momentum quickly becoming a strong presence on television with standing ovation performances on shows such as: HBO s' Def Comedy Jam, The Late Late Show, Jimmy Kimmell Live and Starz 1st Amendment. Also with the opportunity to study with some of Hollywoods top acting coaches, Jay Phillips acting career blossomed as well landing him major national commercials, films and television shows.
Variety magazine labeled Jay Phillips as one of the 10 Comics To Watch as a result of his break out year when 3 films that Jay co-starred in came out number one in the box office back to back to back. His leading role opposite Will Ferrell in the movie Semi-Pro, opposite Tina Fey in Baby mama and role in the movie Prom Night solidified him as one of the rising stars in the industry.
Now in the prime of his career, Jay balances roles on many television sitcoms and dramas, while still producing some of the funniest cutting edge stand up comedy in the business.
Tom is a veteran stand up comedian whose clean but cutting comedy has earned the respect of both his peers and the public alike. He has recorded several specials for Comedy Central the most recent of which ‘Tom Papa Live in New York City’ was directed by Rob Zombie. As a frequent guest on television, Papa has made numerous appearances on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and "Late Show with David Letterman."
Tom is also the host of the hit Sirius/XM show ‘Come to Papa’ that airs on channel 99. Some of Tom’s guests have included Mel Brooks, Ray Romano, Carl Reiner and Jerry Seinfeld.
Tom starred alongside Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in "Behind the Candelabra" which aired on HBO. He also starred opposite Matt Damon in the Steven Soderbergh film, "The Informant," and stars opposite Paul Giamatti in the animated feature, "The Haunted World of El Super Beasto," as the voice of El Super Beasto. He additionally had a voiceover role in the DreamWorks animated feature "Bee Movie" and also was a writer on the project. Among his other big screen credits are the films "Analyze That" opposite Robert DeNiro, and "Comedian."
Tom splits his time between Los Angeles and New York with his wife and family.