James Harden has long been a fan of Meek Mill. The Houston Rockets star danced to the embattled rapper’s music on social media, invited him to perform at his birthday party and played in a charity basketball game with him over the summer. So, when the NBA schedule afforded him a chance to visit Mill in Pennsylvania’s State Correctional Institution after Christmas, Harden seized the opportunity.
Harden visited the rapper on Tuesday, between Houston’s Christmas Day game against the Thunder in Oklahoma City and a national TV matchup with the Celtics in Boston on Thursday, according to TMZ.
“Got a chance to see my bro Meek Mill today,” Harden said, via TMZ Sports. “His spirit is high and hopefully we can get him out by February.
“Told me to tell y’all when he get out he got some (fire) for y’all.”
Harden plans to wear custom-made Adidas “FREE MEEK” sneakers for Thursday’s game against the Celtics, per SI.com’s DeAntae Price, and designer Salvador Amezcua posted this photo to Instagram:
Mill is a Philadelphia native who was sentenced to two-to-four years in state prison last month for allegedly twice violating a probation sentence stemming from his 2008 arrest on drug and gun charges, according to The Inquirer. Mill pleaded guilty to reckless driving charges in October for allegedly doing wheelies on a dirt bike in Manhattan, and charges alleging he participated in a fight at St. Louis airport in March were dropped following a plea agreement stipulating community service.
Mill spent eight months in prison at age 19 and was given five years probation in 2009 as a result of illegal gun possession and drug charges the previous year. He violated his probation in 2014, when he booked a concert outside of Philadelphia without the court’s approval, and he served another several months in jail. He was again given probation in December 2014 and again violated it in 2016, when he was sentenced to 90 days of house arrest for traveling without the judge’s permission. The arrests in St. Louis and Manhattan were further violations of the probation that has perpetuated since 2009.
Mill has charged Philadelphia police with brutality and sued them for costing him concert proceeds and endorsement deals, specifically relating to a 2012 marijuana arrest that never resulted in charges.
Mill’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, has also levied misconduct charges against judge Genece Brinkley, who has presided over Mill’s case since the beginning. He told Billboard magazine that she requested his client re-record Boyz II Men’s “On Bended Knee” with a reference to her, urged Mill to leave Roc Nation for representation from a personal friend of hers and showed up to his community service events.
Meanwhile, a number of entertainers and athletes have come to Mill’s defense, asking for his release from prison. Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label launched a Change.org petition requesting a pardon and an investigation into the matter by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. More than 400,000 have signed it.
Harden is merely the latest NBA personality to pledge his support. Philadelphia 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin wrote a letter to the judge prior to Mill’s sentencing, and Sixers star Joel Embiid also visited the rapper in prison earlier this month. Embiid and teammate Ben Simmons (a Roc Nation client) also showed their support by wearing “STAND WITH MEEK MILL” T-shirts at a Jay-Z concert.
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