Atllanta Hawks

Pope Francis blesses Atlanta Hawks special MLK jersey on civil rights icon’s birthday

The Atlanta Hawks are feeling extra blessed this week after sending a special gift to Pope Francis.

His Holiness received one of the team’s alternate jerseys honoring Martin Luther King. Jr on what would have the Atlanta native and civil rights icon’s 92nd birthday Friday.

The Hawks posted a video of Francis opening up a package with his customized jersey. Francis thanked the Hawks, blessed the jersey and then signed it.

“In the day of the anniversary of Dr. King’s birthday, thank you all for this tribute to MLK and for all the work you are doing,” Francis said in a Hawks release.

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The Hawks said in a release the NBA decided to send Francis a jersey after he previously met in November with a group of players to discuss social and economic injustice and inequality.

The team teamed up with their partners at UPS to send the pontiff a medium-sized jersey with personalized “FRANCIS” and No. 1 on it. A note from team owner Tony Ressler was also included.

Atlanta originally unveiled the MLK jerseys in October. Monday’s matchup against the Timberwolves will be the first time the team wears them in a game.

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The team plans to wear the jerseys three other times this season in a series of Unity Nights: Jan. 26 against the Clippers, Feb. 6 against the Raptors and on HBCU Night Feb. 24 against the Celtics.

The franchise said it will donate profits from jersey sales back to Atlanta’s communities of color.

You can read more about the inspiration and story on how the jerseys were created on the Hawks website.

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