Rapper Meek Mill attended the Sixers' playoff win over the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. After hours of uncertainty on when he would be released from prison, Mill arrived at the Wells Fargo Center about 7:15 p.m. and went directly into the Sixers' locker room.
Mill, wearing a Joel Embiid jersey, was the ceremonial bell-ringer during the pre-game festivities of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, receiving a standing ovation from the fans and cheers from the players.
Many of the Sixers including Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons visited Mill while he was in prison and were looking forward to seeing him following his release. Simmons said that it would be amazing if Mill was able to attend the game.
"Happy for him, happy that he's, out and that he gets to see his family and his son," the Sixers' Justin Anderson said before the game. "It's going to be crazy in here."
Though Mill would be there rooting for the Sixers, the Miami players were also looking forward to the rapper's release and attendance at the game.
Miami's Justise Winslow, referring to a tweet sent out by Mill earlier in the day, said he was hoping that Mill's situation would continue a dialogue and shine a light on issues that often are overlooked.
"His release is overdue, I don't think the crime deserved that time," Winslow said. "He said it today that he was going to use this platform to speak out. I'm excited, it's going to be an even better atmosphere here. I'm happy he's out, and anytime we can bring those conversations to the forefront of our society is good."
Michael Rubin, a co-owner of the team, posted an Instagram photo about an hour before tip-off saying that he, Mill, and others were in a car headed to the arena. Television news footage captured Mill racing onto a helicopter just minutes after he was released from a state prison in Chester around 6:30 p.m.
Earlier Tuesday, Ron Berkowitz, an aide to Rubin, said in a telephone interview that "the plan is to bring [Mill] to the game." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Mill — incarcerated since November — immediately released on bail, citing city prosecutors' position that the rapper is entitled to a new trial for his decade-old conviction and their lack of opposition to his release on bail.
Gov. Wolf planned to sit with Rubin and Mill. Wolf campaign manager Jeff Sheridan said Rubin extended the invite several weeks ago, but "The governor is happy to join Michael Rubin and Meek Mill."
The Philadelphia-born Mill, an avid Sixers fan, posted an Instagram photo shortly after the court's order Tuesday, saying: "Let's go Sixers."
Mill had been imprisoned since November, when Common Pleas Court Judge Genece E. Brinkley sentenced him to two to four years in prison for probation violations related to a decade-old conviction on gun and drug charges.
Rubin became one of his most public backers, and several Sixers players — including Embiid, Simmons, and Markelle Fultz — also were outspoken in support of him while he was behind bars.
Staff writers Angela Couloumbis, Chris Palmer and Joseph N. DiStefano contributed to this article.