Brooklyn’s co-owner Clara Wu Tsai and Caris LeVert showed out to Meek Mill’s special event at the NBA Store this past Saturday, a part of a Reform Alliance mission in which they helped kids with incarcerated parents.
There were over 50 children with their guardians, who went on a shopping spree, all the children who have a parent in prison for technical probation violations, a parent in prison who has been incarcerated for technical probation violations, or a parent in prison who had their probation extended due to a technical probation violation. All were from Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Wu Tsai is at the forefront of the Alliance to help the criminal justice reform.
“I love all of this because it’s a way for me to give back, it’s a way for me to give back to Brooklyn,” Wu Tsai told NetsDaily. “I care so much about economic mobility and what that means is helping the least advantaged move up.”
Tsai is a native of Kansas where her father taught at the university during its Danny Manning glory days. She earned a bachelor’s in international relations and a master’s in international policy studies at Stanford, then an MBA at Harvard. While working in New York, she met and married Joe Tsai. Now, she’s back in the city after working with her husband both at Alibaba and at the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation. According to a source close to the alliance, the foundation has contributed $10 million to the Alliance.
And she’s not about to end her —and her husband’s— commitment and be limited to making a financial contribution. She describes herself as a “philanthropic investor” and is a founding partner in the ownership group... a board that includes Michael Rubin, owner of the Sixers and Devils as well as Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, Van Jones, formerly of CNN, and Jay-Z.
She’s here to help people like Meek Mill, who were wrongfully punished for a crime they did not commit or spent time behind bars because of harsh probation rules.
“You can’t talk about economic mobility in Brooklyn without addressing this situation, so that’s one way I can affect economic reform, one reason why I chose to get involved in criminal justice reform,” Wu Tsai continued. “If I do this, I feel it’s a way I can give back to Brooklyn and the community.”
Earlier this year, the Alliance introduced plans for a bipartisan bill proposal to address issues with technical probation violations and revise some of the harsh penalties that people in Pennsylvania can —and often do— receive while under probation. The Pennsylvania State Legislature will be voting on their bill soon.
Wu Tsai told NetsDaily that’s the first step in the nationwide initiative, followed by seeking out other states with similar laws and finding some sort of solution to the problem.
“Then, we plan on using what we do in Pennsylvania as a model for what we do in other states,” Wu Tsai told ND. “You ask, ‘Will New York be a priority?’ Thing is, compared to other states, New York is actually OK, so the idea is to move to other states where there are a lot of people on probation parole, and that are in much more dire straits than New York.”
Wu Tsai explained that the Alliance has an overall strategy in its lobbying. New York might not be perfect, but it is “relatively more progressive compared to other states” where there is a more urgent need for reform.
Saturday’s event is the third this season where Nets players and others made a political statement: helping the children of those who have lost touch with the larger community. Jarrett Allen took children of incarcerated parents on a Thanksgiving shopping spree in association with Children of Promise, while Kevin Durant dropped by a homeless children’s party sponsored by the Coalition for the Homeless.
LeVert, who was the headliner at the event (wearing a splint over his injured thumb), stood in solidarity with Meek ... and his ownership.
“She’s a very genuine person,” LeVert told NetsDaily when asked about Wu Tsai. “Very genuine person. She’s been very welcoming from Day One, and the same goes for her (from the players). She’s a huge basketball fan so us as players, we really appreciate that. I can’t wait to continue to build our relationship and see what else she has in store for this initiative.”
Meek has been free for four months now, having been famously choppered to a 76ers playoff game by Rubin. He been in a 12-year legal battle when he was sentenced to two-to-four years in prison back in November 2017. He violated probation rules because he… was riding a dirt bike.
Asked what connection basketball and the NBA Store have to the people the Alliance supports, LeVert talked about the importance of basketball being a way of getting out from under the reality of the hood. Still, he emphasized that it isn’t the only way.
“Basketball is a huge getaway but basketball isn’t the only way, though. They have school and so many other things they can get into,” said LeVert about the Alliance. “I don’t want to sit here and say basketball is the only way to get out. But basketball is definitely huge and that’s why I try to use my voice, why Meek uses his voice, so we can let them know they can get out no matter what the circumstances are.”
Wu Tsai agreed. Whether it’s through your voice, your play or your philanthropy, there are things you can do to make things right.
“There’s so much we can do in Brooklyn, the community and really, all over,” said Wu Tsai. “I don’t think it should be that hard to build this community, but all of this is mainly because I care about the community and I care about what’s right. It isn’t about word, it’s about action.”