Philadelphia-raised rapper Meek Mill provided the soundtrack for the Eagles’ Super Bowl run, with the team chanting his lyrics even as it raucously celebrated its defeat of the Patriots for the NFL title. On Tuesday, the owner of the Super Bowl runners-up showed that he, too, has plenty of support for Mill, paying a visit to the rapper at the Pennsylvania state prison where he has been incarcerated since November.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft joined the chorus of those in the sports world who have decried Mill’s imprisonment, on a two- to four-year sentence for parole violations, and demanded his release. “I know some of our players in the NFL have talked about this, and I see firsthand that it’s just wrong,” Kraft told reporters outside the facility in Chester, Pa.
“Amazing young man. I know how I’d feel if I was in the situation he is,” the 76-year-old Kraft said of Mill. “Every time I see him, I just come away more impressed. He’s very intelligent. And makes it clear to me we have to do something with criminal justice reform.”
Kraft was joined by Michael Rubin, an e-commerce billionaire who co-owns the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils. Rubin was reported to be among those vying to purchase the Carolina Panthers — and possibly bringing rapper/entrepreneur Diddy and Warriors guard Stephen Curry into his ownership group — before dropping out of the bidding last month.
“This has been a situation where it started with a wrongful conviction, and then it ended up with a really bad judge, where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong,” Rubin, 45, said of Mill (via NBC 10). He added that he expected the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to help Mill “get out soon,” describing that as an outcome supported by the state’s governor and a district attorney involved in the case.
That DA, Larry Krasner, filed a submission last week with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court stating that his office would not oppose Mill’s release on bail. Last month, Krasner filed a similar submission to the Common Pleas Court judge who sentenced the rapper, Genece Brinkley, but she turned down his bid for bail.
In her ruling, Brinkley rejected the accusation from Mill’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, that she had turned his case into “a personal vendetta.” She pointed to numerous parole violations, following his release from prison in 2009 after being originally sentenced by Brinkley on charges including drug possession and carrying a firearm without a license.
The plight of Mill, a 30-year-old whose real name is Robert Rihmeek Williams, has gained national attention not just because of his fame as a rapper, but also for how it encapsulates many of the issues viewed by some as revealing systematic oppression and racism in the justice system. “We all believe in him and that the punishment bestowed upon him is excessive, is cruel and it’s motivated by unsavory circumstances,” 76ers legend Julius Erving said on Mill’s behalf at a November rally in Philadelphia.
Some current Sixers stars, including Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, have also visited Mill in prison. “The conversation was very positive and Meek’s spirits are still high,” a source told TMZ Sports last week of the visit from Simmons and Fultz. “He is also proud of the 76ers.”
“When he gets out, he’s going to turn this thing around and inspire a lot of other people who have been treated unfairly,” Kraft said of Mill Tuesday.
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