Bernard Hopkins isn't a stranger to the system. As a youth, Hopkins spent nearly five years being locked up in prison from the ages of 18-23.
So the Hall of Fame-bound boxer could definitely relate to what fellow Philadelphian Meek Mill is currently going through behind bars at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility on State Road in Philly for a probation violation.
When BET.com recently caught up with B-Hop, while the light-heavyweight champion was preparing for his upcoming November 8 bout with Sergey Kovalev, Hopkins offered words of encouragement to the MMG rhyme spitter and strongly believes that Meek will emerge stronger than ever upon his impending release.
"Well, first dealing with Meek, my young bul — respected North Philly. He had some things happening in his life that he has a chance to sit back, look at and evaluate up there on State Road right now," Hopkins said. "I’ve been in his presence many a times, especially his uncles. I believe you’re gonna see a Meek Mill that comes out this time understanding that even though we have a right of freedom of speech — because he’s incarcerated for really speaking through hooks about the establishment, whether it was probation officer, whether it was a judge...and they got offended by it. I believe he’s smart enough — and if he’s not, I’ll let him know — that even though we have the right — they say — of freedom of speech, it’s only a freedom to expose yourself to be shot down."
Hopkins continued, adding that he thinks Meek fell victim to believing in the freedom of speech too much and said that he will warn the MC to be more cautious with his words in the future.
"It’s a trap to get you to be exposed and see where you’re thinking is at," Hopkins said of freedom of speech. "He will be out strong and fast and come out with some good knowledge when he comes out...Meek is still young, he’s at the top of the game and he’ll rap about it because I believe he’s one of the greatest ones — and I use the word great — to come out this system. He’s one of the top rappers to come out of Philadelphia in a long time."
There's no timetable on Meek's return, although MMG head honcho Rick Ross has commented "soon" in several different interviews.
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(Photos from left: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Time Warner Cable, Vincent Sandoval/WireImage)