CHICAGO (CBS) — Actor Hill Harper said he and former President Barack Obama played basketball at a prison while they were both students at Harvard Law School.
During an interview with CBS Local Digital Studios, Harper said he was doing outreach for black students at Harvard, and an inmate at a maximum security prison wrote him a letter. The man said Harvard students never interacted with inmates, so Harper decided to change that.
“I got Barack and a couple of other guys, and I organized a basketball game at a prison,” Harper said. “The whole prison shut down and lined the court.”
Harper, known for his roles on shows like “CSI: NY” and “The Good Doctor”, said it was important for black male students to interact with incarcerated men because black men are imprisoned at a disproportionate rate in the U.S.
“Black men are 6% of the population, but we’re 42% of the inmates,” he said.
Harper said he doubts any of the men they played basketball with recognize Obama from the game, but he said the experience seems to have a lasting impact on the former president.
“I know he was the first sitting president to visit a prison while in office, and the first time he ever visited a prison was that time that we played in law school,” Harper said.