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Arenas ready to rebuild image after gun suspension

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Gilbert Arenas issued a public apology on Tuesday as he prepares to start rebuilding his image less than a week after the NBA suspended the Washington Wizards guard for bringing guns into the team's locker room.

The comments were made in an editorial piece published in The Washington Post on Tuesday, where the three-time NBA All-Star said he hoped young fans would learn a valuable lesson about non-violence from his mistake.

"I know that won't happen overnight, and that it will happen only if I show through my actions that I am truly sorry and have learned from my mistakes," wrote the 28-year-old. "If I do that, then hopefully youngsters will learn from the serious mistakes I made with guns and not make any of their own."

Arenas and team mate Javaris Crittenton were suspended without pay for the rest of the season after NBA commissioner David Stern said there was no justification for their actions.

Following a dispute during a flight home from a game in December, the two players later brought weapons into the locker room at the team's arena. NBA rules prohibit players from bringing firearms to league and team facilities.

In the article, Arenas said he failed to live up to a duty of professional athletes acting responsibly.

Arenas also said he sent a letter to students in D.C.-area schools in which he admitted to losing sight of lessons learned from Abe Pollin, the late owner of the Wizards who changed the team's nickname from Bullets to Wizards because of the violent connotations of the old name.

"I said that I lost sight of the lesson I learned from Abe Pollin about how the responsibility to be a good role model comes along with the opportunity he gave me," wrote Arenas.

"I reiterate now the pledge I made to those students: that this is a responsibility I am not going to walk away from, that I will choose more wisely in the future and do my best to help guide children into brighter futures."

(Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto)

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