Fanatics owner Michael Rubin REFORM Alliance hosts 76ers event

Michael Rubin joined rapper Lil Baby in a draw for the kids who attended the REFORM Alliance evening.

Photo: Sharif Ziyadat and Studio 76

During 2021, Fanatics chairman Michael Rubin spent time building his company into a $ 18 billion e-commerce empire.

He licensed Major League Baseball’s trading card, guaranteed $ 1 billion in revenue, and also blocked NFT rights in baseball. He poached the Dallas Cowboys with e-commerce, founded Fanatics China, and even got an investment from Jay-Z.

Hours before the Philadelphia 76ers, the team he co-owns, played a home game against the Miami Heat on December 15, Rubin shelved business and focused on something bigger.

“I think about business all the time, but I didn’t run up and down the set,” Rubin said. “This is really amazing for me. I haven’t looked at my phone for over an hour. I didn’t think about work. “

Reason: Rubin needed to pay attention to families affected by an unfair criminal justice system. He needed to show his friend, hip-hop star Mika Mill, that he was still practicing Alliance REFORM, an organization formed with the aim of bringing about change in the criminal justice system.

Rubin, 49, also had to defend his basketball credibility and get the best from another music superstar who joined 25 kids and families at the Well Fargo Center for the REFORM Alliance.

“He’s the only one who plays basketball more than me,” Rubin joked, referring to rapper Lil Baby. “I was not going to give in to Lil Baby in basketball.”


Follow Ruby long enough and you’ll find that he has memorized Mick Mill’s story.

Rubin explains how Mill’s 2017 sentence affected him, in front of 76ers coach Doc Rivers. He talked about it in a TV interview while Sixers majority owner and Apollo Global Management co-founder Josh Harris followed him closely.

“It means he’s figuring it out,” Rubin said of how Harris learns to give. “Josh is more focused than ever on getting back to the community.”

Mill, the Philadelphia-born hip-hop star known in the criminal justice system as Robert Williams, was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in prison in 2017 for a parole violation. The verdict caught the attention of the whole country and Jay Z provided more information on the unfair system.

In 2017 New York Times article, he wrote that the probationary period is similar to a “land mine”, the addition of one “accidental mistake” can lead to “more serious consequences than a crime.”

The Williams case also got Rubin’s full attention when Mill invited him to follow the trial and “see what happens to blacks when they go to court,” Rubin recalled.

Mill’s story is well documented in Part of 2018 for the ESPN series The Undefeated… The article details Mill’s probation at the age of 19, when he was growing up in North Philadelphia.

When Rubin recalls the 2017 verdict, he says, “The smartest thing he ever did was call me.”

In 2019, Rubin joined Mill, Jay Z, and sports owners including Brooklyn Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai to start REFORM Alliance… The organization wants to raise awareness of injustice in the criminal justice system. REFORM’s board members have pledged $ 50 million, CNN reported. Now former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey increased this figure with his $ 10 million donation in May 2019.

REFORM claims to have amassed more since then, but does not tell CNBC the exact number. But since REFORM’s inception, Rubin said, 13 bills have been passed in eight states, including California, where a trial period is now limited to two years for most violations.

He added that the law in Pennsylvania is now at the state Senate level.

According to the US Department of Justice, “public oversight, “- those on probation or parole – dropped from more than 4.1 million people under supervision to about 3.8 million during 2020. And only in terms of probation, which is 8.3% less than those on probation since 1980.

Rubin said REFORM has “made significant progress” in helping to repair the “broken” system.

“We don’t want people to do something insignificant like smoking weed to get back to prison,” he added. “This is a waste of taxpayer money, we are destroying families and hurting people.”

“Mike learned a lot,” Mill told CNBC. “Now he understands the world I came from — where we are from,” he added, referring to the reporter, also from North Philadelphia. “He understands poverty and I think he cares enough where he can participate at this level.”

Fanatic owner Michael Rubin chats with families affected by unfair parole and parole laws.

Jabari Young | CNBC

Conversation at the first table

To bring more attention to REFORM and deliver an NBA Christmas experience, Mill and Rubin co-hosted 25 children, ages 6-18, who were negatively impacted by parole and parole violations.

Mill said he called Rubin with a simple request: “Can you help me make some of the kids feel special in my community.”

“Holidays are part of it,” Mill told CNBC. “Small children who do not have parents in the house can have a bad vacation.”

“Every child here has a mom or dad who is currently in jail or was in jail for a technical violation,” added Rubin. “They didn’t commit a crime, but they ended up in jail.”

The young participants played a mini-raffle before the Sixers-Heat game. It was Team Meek Mill versus Team Lil Baby. Rubin joined Mill so he could compete with Lil Baby for most of the game.

The two dived to the floor to get a free ball, and the Atlanta musician took over Rubin in a jump ball.

“I feel like they tried me,” joked Lil Baby.

Michael Rubin joined rapper Lil Baby in a draw for the kids who attended the REFORM Alliance evening.

Photo: Sharif Ziyadat and Studio 76

When asked why he accepted the invitation to join the REFORM event, Lil Baby replied, “I’ve been in some of those situations, so it was definitely for me. I came from that environment. “

The kids also joined a Q&A session with Sixers Coach Doc Rivers and watched the Sixers fall in the heat from the suite and court seating with Mill, Lil Baby and TikTok stars Charlie and Dixie D’Amelio.

The kids also received gift bags with NBA merchandise.

“For these kids to be here and play basketball with Lil Baby and Meek Mill, we wanted to give them the best day of their lives,” Rubin said.

And the event also served as another opportunity for Rubin to hear more stories about the “broken system.”

During the REFORM dinner with the families, Rubin sat down at Table 1 and joined Recco Ford Sr., a Philadelphia native, who was also sentenced in 2015 to terms of 2 to 4 years for being late for a probation meeting.

Ford said the conversation with Rubin at Table 1 was “surreal” and “motivational.” When asked what he sees when he looks at the owner of Fanatics, Ford replied: “I see a person who has a lot of influence and support, and also takes time to help.”

Group shot at night at the REFORM Alliance in Philadelphia.

Photo: Sharif Ziyadat and Studio 76

“The time has come for real change to occur in this country, and I feel the organization is on the cusp of that change,” said REFORM CEO Robert Rooks. “The business side of this: how can we hold more of these events and help our loved ones in the community.”

Back to business

At the end of the fight, Rubin took his phone, but nothing significant happened during the game.

MLB, Fanatics’ largest sports client, is still under lockdown. The chatter on Wall Street was slow, and the $ 18 billion company was fine.

“Eight text messages and just nine emails was not as bad as I thought,” Rubin said. “I’ll come back [to New York] this event excited me more than anything I have done in business today. “

When the fun was over, when asked what he sees when he looks at Michael Rubin, Lil Baby replied: “Businessman all day every day. And so we click. “

Said Lil Baby calls him “my older dude,” Rubin laughed.

“He will call me and ask a lot of different things.” What do you think of this company? Should I Invest? Should I not invest? What do you think of this business situation? “

“He was in prison five years ago, and now he is one of the greatest artists in the world,” added Rubin. “His valuable ethics are insane.”

When asked what he wanted his Wall Street colleagues to take from the REFORM Alliance event, Rubin urged them to provide an answer.

“When you talk about people on Wall Street, you are talking about people who are generally better off,” Rubin said. “It is their responsibility to make a difference.

“The meek was lucky, but I was lucky,” added Rubin. “Our responsibility is to give up our communities. Anyone who is fortunate enough to be in a good position and does not give in return is a bad person. “

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