ATLANTA — The Atlanta Hawks sent a special gift to Pope Francis: an MLK jersey that was blessed by the pontiff on Martin Luther King Jr’s 92nd birthday Friday.
The Vatican delivery followed Francis’s meeting in November with a delegation of NBA players to discuss social justice and economic inequality.
𝐓𝐰𝐨 𝐠𝐥𝐨𝐛𝐚𝐥 𝐢𝐜𝐨𝐧𝐬. 🙌
On Dr. King's birthday, @Pontifex blessed our 20-21 MLK Nike City Edition jersey to honor our shared commitment to making positive change in social equality, economic empowerment and love.
— Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) January 15, 2021
The Hawks sent the pontiff their alternate jersey honoring the Atlanta native son and civil rights icon who was assassinated in 1968. It will be worn for the first time Monday when the team hosts its annual game on the King national holiday.
The team released a video that showed Francis opening a package that contained the No. 1 jersey, which has “MLK” across the front — instead of “Hawks” or the city name — and Francis’ name across the back.
The pontiff said “Thank you very much” before blessing the jersey and signing it.