Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill took his first steps outside of a Chester County prison in five months Tuesday and was welcomed with an outpouring of love and support from fans and celebrities.
Mill, controversially sentenced last year to two- to four-years for probation violations related to a decade-old conviction on gun and drug charges, was freed after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted the rapper "extraordinary relief." The court's move came after the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office recently raised questions concerning the credibility of Mill's arresting officer, Reginald Graham.
The award-winning artist was given the star treatment upon his release Tuesday. He hopped into a helicopter and flew to the Sixers' winning playoff game against the Miami Heat. Before tip-off, he rang the bell, which could hardly be heard over by raucous applause.
>>READ MORE: Meek Mill is free, but his case goes on
Fellow musicians, celebrities, politicians and athletes took to social media Tuesday to celebrate his release. Those posting supportive messages included Kevin Hart, who had visited Mill in prison, along with 76ers co-owner Michael Rubin, earlier in the day. They then celebrated at the game together that evening.
"Back like we never left," Hart posted on his Instagram.
Philly's Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, Earl Sweatshirt and Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills were just a few who joined in the chorus of excitement online. Rihanna and Mill reposted a now widely shared video from Instagrammer @theshiggyshow blasting "Dreams and Nightmares" — a song that doubled as the Eagles' unofficial anthem during the Super Bowl.
Warning: Video below contains profanity
The Patriots shared a photo of Mill and owner Robert Kraft, who had also visited Mill in prison, that read: "Justice for our friend. Finally free."
Some used the opportunity not only to celebrate Mill's new freedom, but to draw attention to the larger issues that the case represents.
Gov. Tom Wolf called for reforms to the state's criminal justice system, while former Eagles player Torrey Smith said he couldn't wait to see the rapper use his experience as a way to help others.
The Los Angeles Lakers' Kyle Kuzma brought up suspected Waffle House gunman Travis Reinking, who had bail set at $2 million.
But Jay-Z issued one of the stronger statements, calling direct attention to Mill's "unjust" incarceration.
It's not the first time the rapper has voiced support for Mill. Roc Nation, founded by Jay-Z, as well as Rubin, were behind the "Stand With Meek Mill" billboards seen around Philly back in the fall. Jay-Z also penned an op-ed for the New York Times titled "The Criminal Justice System Stalks Black People Like Meek Mill."
"Today, Meek Mill, a son of Philadelphia, is a free man," Jay-Z wrote Tuesday. "He was incarcerated unjustly and caught in a probation trap for years by a broken system. Now we can celebrate his release. We thank every individual that has supported and fought alongside Meek every step of the way."