Rapper Meek Mill has followed through on a promise he made last October. Earlier this month he teamed up with Puma and city officials to host a block party, unveiling new basketball courts he vowed to refurbish.
The newly renovated Strawberry Mansion Legacy Courts are located at East Fairmount Park in North Philadelphia. Born Robert Rihmeek Williams, the Philly native grew up right across the street and said he chose the courts for that very reason.
“North Philly will always be home. When kids go to East Fairmount Park, they deserve to ball in the best conditions possible, so I’m glad they’ll have that opportunity now,” Mill told TMZ.
The 32-year-old spearheaded the project, making the connection with city officials and then with Puma, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. He then reached out to Philadelphia based artist, Glossblack, who connected him with the city’s Mural Arts program. The city’s department of Parks & Recreation and the Strawberry Mansion Community Development Corporation also got on board.
The mural was completed over a 6 week period with the support of the Mural Art’s Restorative Justice program, which employs incarcerated and formerly incarcerated young adults and connects them with their communities through initiatives such as this.
Mill arrived to the unveiling with his family and children in tow. His mother, Kathy Williams said she’s not surprised the rapper was giving back since they used to live in the neighborhood. She said, “[Mill] used to play on these courts when he was really small.” Mill’s aunt Annamarie Easley added, “I am so proud of him. He’s had his own problems, but he’s now trying to help everybody.”
The reimagined courts are just the latest in the rapper’s community and social good efforts. After his own battles with the law, Mill started Reform Alliance, a national movement to fight for criminal justice reform, in partnership with rapper Jay Z and billionaire businessman Robert F. Smith. Political commentator Van Jones is the CEO of the new company, which aims to bring leaders from across all sectors and utilize their resources to reform policies, laws and practices that are unjust.
Mill has been commended nationwide for his efforts. City Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who attended the opening of the courts shared in Mill’s praise saying, “A lot of people who make it come back for a minute, get a little camera, and then they’re gone.” But not in Meek Mill’s case.
Photo Courtesy of Heather Khalifa/Philadelphia Inquirer