One of the groups getting $200k from the NFL and Roc Nation is getting blasted for a 2016 photo of its founder cutting a young man's locks — but the kid himself says it's much ado about nothing.
The pic was tweeted by Crushers Club — a Chicago youth empowerment group — almost 3 years ago, and shows Sally Hazelgrove cutting the locks of a teen named Kobe. Someone on the Internet dug up the tweet after TMZ broke the story … the NFL's Inspire Change program, in association with Roc Nation, would be donating money to Crushers Club.
The social media backlash is focused on the imagery — a white woman cutting Kobe's locks — and Sally's caption, "It's symbolic of change and their desire for a better life." People who are critical think it reeks of cultural insensitivity.
Kobe himself, though, says the critics have it all wrong. Once the Internet outrage began, he quickly posted a video explaining that HE wanted to cut his hair. "That's something I wanted to do because I was tired of it. Tired of gang banging, tired of messing up. Now, I'm a changed young man."
The NFL and Meek Mill clearly agree with Kobe when it comes to the work Crushers Club is doing for Chicago's at-risk youth. Meek and Meghan Trainor are in Chicago Thursday to make Inspire Change's $200k donation.
We reached out to Hazelgrove and she echoed Kobe's statement — that she was only cutting his hair at his request.
One source involved in Thursday's event said the attacks on Hazelgrove — who's worked tirelessly for Chicago kids — came off as reverse racism. Criticism aside … the event and the donation are going forward as scheduled.