Meek Mill crouched on the field before a Philadelphia 76ers game and took a shy 7-year-old’s hand for a quiet chat before several kids surrounded the rapper for a group photo. His message to the boy – and to all the Philly kids affected by the criminal justice system who were invited to play basketball with Meek Mill – was one of compassion.
“I was one of those kids, so I know what it means to be in situations like that,” Mill said Wednesday (December 15). “I make sure I serve it the way I did there. I’m happy too.”
The 34-year-old rapper and activist acted like kids on the field as he played a 5-on-5 light game and competed in a “knockout” to help raise awareness of the Reform Coalition’s mission. Mill, whose public prison sentence for a minor probation violation has become a lightning rod for the issue, is co-chair of the reform organization that advocates for changes to the state’s probation and parole laws.
Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, co-chairman and co-owner of the 76ers, helped organize the game and arrange seating for Wednesday’s game and a visit with coach Doc Rivers for the 25 children. “We wanted to give them the day of their life,” says Rubin. “At the same time, to be honest, we wanted to draw attention to this issue.”
The Reform Alliance also includes rappers Jay-Z and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and has been making strides in his mission for nearly three years – yes, Mill was there snapping pictures of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam in June when he Probation reform signed law into law.
The Pennsylvania State Senate on Wednesday passed the law revised probation treatment, in an attempt to limit people from being stuck in an endless cycle of probation or sent back to prison for minor infractions. The measure limits the length of probation sentences and the circumstances in which nonviolent offenders on probation can be sent to prison, part of a national review of probation practices and pardon.
The vote, 46-4, sends the bill to the House of Representatives, where an earlier Senate bill died without a vote last year. Pennsylvania has one of the highest percentages of people under community supervision, according to federal statistics. “I am extremely pleased to see that passed the House and signed into law,” said Rubin. “It will help us (achieve) our goal of getting a million people out of the system who don’t belong there.”
Mill, who released his fifth solo studio album, Expensive pain, in October, said it’s important to remember that children are often most affected when their parents are sent to prison for minor probation violations.
Mill has attracted the attention of criminal justice reform advocates after a Pennsylvania judge sentenced him to two to four years in prison for violating the conditions of his probation in a gun possession case. and drugs for a decade. He was held for months before a court ordered his release in 2018 – and Rubin arranged a helicopter to take Mill from prison to the Sixers playoff game.
“I really didn’t have anyone to change my life to when I was young,” says Mill. “I am just one of the lucky ones. If I can help one person, they ask me about helping a million people at Reform, but if I can help one person, that’s enough for me. LaTonya Myers, who served nine months in prison for not being able to afford bail, has since joined the rapper in campaigning for justice reform.
“I think this is breaking the curse of the generation,” she said. “I think this is a memory these kids will always remember because they will have an association with something positive instead of something negative related to their situation. They will not be ashamed of what their parents went through, but can also be proud that they have upheld and overcome the challenges the system has posed to certain individuals. ”
Mill survived growing up and incarceration in Philadelphia to become a Grammy-nominated rapper and is now looking for changes in the same neighborhoods he grew up in. He plans to give gifts worth $500,000 this weekend to families in Philadelphia. Mill said the items include toys, educational materials, clothing and other surprises.
“We can make some kids smile in Philadelphia,” says Mill. Now, he has the resources to give back to his community and make the positive impact he used to seek as a child. “I think it’s always been with me,” he said, “I just don’t think I have it to give away.”
https://www.billboard.com/music/rb-hip-hop/meek-mill-basketball-philly-kids-justice-system-1235011380/ Meek Mill Plays Hoops with Philly Kids Influenced by the Justice System – Billboard