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Entertainer, From Philadelphia, Hoops with Philly Kids Affected by Justice System

Herald Review: Dan Gelston | December 15, 2021

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Meek Mill crouched on the court before a Philadelphia 76ers game and grabbed the hand of a shy 7-year-old boy for a quiet chat before more kids swarmed the rapper for a photo.

His message for the boy — and for all the Philly-area children affected by the criminal justice system who were invited to play basketball with Meek Mill — was one of compassion.

“I am one of those kids, so I know what it means to be in those types of situations,” Mill said Wednesday. “I make sure I cater to it the way I just did it out there. It’s fun for me, too.”

The 34-year-old rapper and activist acted like the kids on the court as he played a light game of 5-on-5 and competed in “knockout” to help raise awareness of the mission of the Reform Alliance. Mill, whose well-publicized prison sentence for minor probation violations became a lightning rod for the issue, is co-chairman of the reform organization that lobbies for changes to state probation and parole laws.

Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, a fellow co-chairman and 76ers co-owner, helped organize the game and arranged for seats at Wednesday's game and a visit with coach Doc Rivers for 25 children.

“We want to give them the day of a lifetime,” Rubin said. “At the same time, to be frank, we want to bring attention to this issue.”

The Reform Alliance also includes rapper Jay-Z and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, and has made strides in its mission over nearly three years -- yes, Mill was there snapping photos of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam in June when he signed probation reform legislation into law.

Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Wednesday approved legislation to overhaul how probation is handled, in an effort to clamp down on people being stuck on an endless probation cycle or being sent back to jail for minor violations.

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