After 11 years, Meek Mill was finally free.
The first thing the formerly incarcerated rapper did was to fly, in a helicopter, straight to Wells Fargo Center to watch his beloved basketball team – the Philadelphia 76ers – take on the Miami Heat in the NBA Playoffs.
This extravagant flight was organized by Michael Rubin, co-owner of the 76ers. Speaking to the Associated Press, Mill noted that “he [Michael Rubin] has been showing up for me and standing up for me like a real friend would do… I just think he’s a good-hearted person being that he’s somebody worth billions of dollars and still uses his resources to stand up for people who don’t have the money to be able to fight the errors of the criminal justice system.”
Michael Rubin is just one name on a long list of high-profile athletes, businessmen and musicians that have criticized the unfair imprisonment of Meek Mill, including Jay Z, T.I., Kevin Hart and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Mill first went to prison in 2008 for illegally carrying a weapon on the way to a grocery store and spent eight months in the cell. After another arrest, his music career began to take off and his debut album, Dreams and Nightmares, soared to the No. 2 Place on the Billboard 200.
However, his career met another roadblock when he was arrested for violating probation while setting up concerts outside of his city without approval from the judge. After several more arrests involving probation and skirmishes in airports, Meek Mill found himself behind the bars again for 2 to 4 years – for popping a wheelie in New York City. This decision was against the recommendations of the assistant district attorney and probation officer, but was ultimately implemented by Judge Genece E. Brinkley. Meek Mill was finally released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on April 24, and immediately flew over to ring the liberty bell that kicks off each 76ers basketball game.
Judge Brinkley was later accused and also observed to take “personal interest” in Meek Mill’s case, including supervising his probation and allegedly asking him to give her a shout-out in his next album.
Despite achieving victory, Mill’s fight isn’t over. He has expressed his will to help those in similar situations as him but without the high-profile assistance and exposure he has received. He recently spoke about not halting the momentum his fight for innocence has created to reform the criminal justice system in front of the Innocence Project gala.
Brian Ham, Grade 9
Seoul International School