Meek waived a jury trial back in 2007 because of the added cost, and was sentenced by Brinkley to two years in prison and eight years of probation. But since then he’s had several probation violations, which have landed him back in jail, on Brinkley’s orders. Many of them have been benign, mostly violating his restricted travel stipulations when he performed in concerts out of state. The most recent contretemps happened last year—first a fight at an airport in March (Rubin says Meek was simply breaking up the fight) and then an Instagram Live video that caught him popping wheelies on a dirt bike while in New York for an appearance on The Tonight Show. He was arrested the following day by the NYPD for reckless endangerment. Despite his probation officer and the Pennsylvania District Attorney recommending that Meek not serve any jail time, Brinkley sentenced him to two to four years. Rubin was in the courtroom that day in November and says he tried to speak on Meek’s behalf but was ignored by Brinkley. Rubin says Brinkley’s demeanor and behavior in court appalled him to the point of action.
“It was my first time in my 45 years on the planet where I was like, ‘I’m not letting this stand,’ ” he says. “It personally offended me.”
Rubin and Meek first became friends five years ago when they met at an NBA All-Star game and found out that they live about 10 minutes away from each other. Over the last several years, Meek has been a guest of Rubin’s at dozens of Sixers games, sitting courtside next to the owner. As their friendship grew, Meek would tell Rubin that there are two America’s—white America and black—and Rubin never believed him, labeling himself an optimist and admittedly ignorant to the systemic problems that he had never before witnessed first hand. Over the last five months, however, Rubin says, he has told Meek that he was of course wrong and the rapper was right. His friend was proof, and he felt he needed to help him fight the injustice.
“Whenever people asked me for help before, ‘I was like how can I help you financially?’ ” Rubin says. “When it happens to a good friend of yours, you’re like, ‘Ok I have to make a stand.’ Different owners have different levels of social awareness at different times. This is so personal to me. Meek is around me all the time. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t take a stand for him.”
Rubin says that after being closely involved in the legal battle for five months, he has realized how much unfettered power a judge has, how unjust the system can be. When Meek and Rubin talk during the 15 or so visits the owner has made to the prison, they discuss three things. 1) The Sixers 2) Any updates to Meek’s current legal situation and 3) When he does get out, how can the two of them help fix this pervasive issue. They have formed concrete plans.
“I feel so much compassion for how horrific the situation is that I want to make a difference,” Rubin says. “In some ways it’s good because it’s shining a light on how broken the system is.”