Aside from the Eagles, no one had a bigger Super Bowl than Meek Mill.
His hometown team ran out to his 2012 anthem “Dreams and Nightmares” — and when they finally finished off the Patriots in a stunning 41-33 upset, the Eagles celebrated to his song too.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) February 4, 2018
But Meek Mill wasn’t there to celebrate. In fact, he wasn’t there to see the game, or his role in it, at all.
The Philadelphia rapper is currently serving a two- to four-year prison sentence for violating the probation he’s been on for almost 10 years.
Meek Mill’s current legal issues almost wholly stem from a 2007 arrest, and later conviction, for multiple gun and drug charges. After serving time in prison, he was placed on probation — which he’s violated five times in six years.
And certainly no one is arguing that Meek hasn’t broken the law — his probation violations have often come from reckless, questionable behavior. After all, this is the man who once allegedly turned in water instead of urine for a drug test.
But many, including Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Colin Kaepernick, have rallied around Meek Mill as a symbol of a justice system in desperate need of reform.
His seemingly eternal struggles with probation aren’t unique — many see Meek as just another young black man being forced to pay for the same mistake over and over again, years after already serving time for his crimes.
“Sadly there are Black folks going through the same radicalized injustice(s) within the justice system that Meek Mill has experienced for over a decade EVERY SINGLE DAY,” Kaepernick tweeted.
So for many, the Super Bowl became a way to advocate for Meek Mill’s case on the biggest stage sports has to offer.
Minnesota Timberwolves center and Eagles fan Karl-Anthony Towns wore a jersey with “FREE MEEK MILL” as the name on the back. LeBron James tweeted “#FreeMeek” at the end of the game. And people in Philadelphia and around the world blasted the rapper’s biggest hit — “Dreams and Nightmares,” which recharted to 20 on iTunes following the game.
In an ideal world, the rapper would have been at the game, celebrating with his team, fans and city.
But instead he’s behind bars — and easily could be for at least the next two years. So instead, Philadelphia’s Super Bowl victory gave him the next best thing — a platform to advocate for his situation and, by extension, others in the same situation.