Ron Artest III just revealed to TMZ Sports that he had a pair of Kobe Bryant game-worn kicks ... and instead of keeping them safe and sound, he used 'em to play ball.
... and, completely destroyed them!!!
The 22-year-old hooper -- and son of ex-NBA's Ron Artest aka Metta Sandiford-Artest -- says he's a huge Bryant fan and even mimics his moves on the court.
And, you would think, with his dad being Bryant's former teammate, that he got exclusive workouts with the late Hall of Famer -- but that's not the case.
"I seen Kobe a lot like in the practice facilities and the games," the 6-foot-7 forward tells us, "but I was always scared to go up and talk to him. So, I never really went to talk to him."
Artest did get something else, though ... a pair of Kobe's game-worn sneakers that he ended up destroying playing basketball!
Here's what happened ... "One time after a game, I was sitting outside of the locker room and he walked in. A security guard came out and gave me the shoes he just wore."
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"As soon as I got those shoes, the next day I went to the court and started playing with them and just tore 'em up."
Artest added, "Instead of trying to hold on to them, I was like nah, I'm playing in it."
"Game-worn shoes. I felt like 'Like Mike' -- the movie. I played in 'em and tore 'em up."
Hopefully, when the free agent from Cal State Univ. signs to a team, he won't ruin any more Kobe's -- or any sneakers for that matter.
Side note -- how freakin' big are Artest's feet if he was able to wear Kobe's size 14s?!?