This past Sunday, the NFL conference championships were held and it was decided that the New England Patriots will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl. It will be a special day for all players involved, but Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles made sure to make it a special day for someone else. As a nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Jenkins was given two tickets to the big game to give to whomever he pleased. The defensive back chose to give the tickets to former juvenile lifer Kempis Songster and Songster’s fiancé, as well as take care of the couple’s travel and hotel accommodations.
Songster was locked up in 1987 for the killing of Anjo Pryce inside a trap house in Southwest Philadelphia. The two boys were both runaways and lured to trap out of Jamaican drug houses. While in prison, Songster engaged in work to end what he calls “death by incarceration,” and garnered quite the following. Now, 45-years-old, Songster was released last month after serving more than 30 years in the slammer, due to two rulings by the Supreme Court that found that sentencing juveniles to life sentences without parole was unconstitutional.
Jenkins met Songster once while he was at Graterford prison and again when he was released on December 28. “[Jenkins] came up to Graterford to talk about criminal justice reform,” Songster said. “He said he just wanted to work with me on various issues close to his heart. Then he offered me two tickets to show how serious he was.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Jenkins has been a vocal advocate for criminal and social justice reform over the last year, traveling to Harrisburg and raising his fist during the National Anthem, until the Players Coalition reached an agreement with the NFL to have the league fund $90 million of community programs. His foundation supports underserved youth.
“Each nominee for all teams receive two tickets for the game that they can give to anyone they like,” said Jenkins’ spokeswoman Kristi Roehm. “Malcolm chose to give that to Kempis. He’s extremely passionate about criminal justice reform. He’s been very clear about juvenile life without parole and the unconstitutional nature of that.”
Although Songster accepted the tickets, he admits that he is not much of a football fan, but is rooting for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. “Listen. I do like the Philadelphia Eagles,” he said. “I’m not an avid football aficionado. But I’ve wanted them to win for years.”