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How Deion Sanders helped secure a pardon from Donald Trump for rapper Lil Wayne

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 1/20/2021 Jim Henry, Tallahassee Democrat
a man wearing a hat and sunglasses: Trinity Christian School, located in Cedar Hill, Texas, offensive coach Deion Sanders coaches his boys to a victory over Gadsden County on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020. © Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat Trinity Christian School, located in Cedar Hill, Texas, offensive coach Deion Sanders coaches his boys to a victory over Gadsden County on Friday, Oct. 9, 2020.

Rapper Lil Wayne owes a debt of gratitude to President Donald Trump.

And to Deion Sanders, too.

Sanders – the former Florida State All-American and first-year football coach at Jackson State – was cited for his support in Trump's pardon of the rapper early Wednesday. 

Lil Wayne, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was among the 143 pardons and commuted sentences issued in the president's final hours in office Wednesday morning.

Lil Wayne faced up to 10 years in prison after he was arrested in Miami in 2019 with a handgun and drugs. He also pleaded guilty last month to possessing a firearm as a formerly convicted felon.

Sanders wrote that Lil Wayne is “a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, [and] a game changer.”

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Sanders, 53  – known as "Prime Time" during his FSU (1985-88), MLB (1989-2001) and NFL (1989-2005) careers and a Pro Football Hall of Famer – has said publicly he and Lil Wayne are good friends. 

In 2013, Sanders' son, Deion Sanders Jr., then a player at SMU, was subject to a compliance investigation because he went backstage at a Lil Wayne concert in Dallas because it could have been an NCAA violation for improper benefits.

Lil Wayne wearing a hat talking on a cell phone: Rap star Lil Wayne brings the party to Coliseum on Friday night. © www.santabanta.com Rap star Lil Wayne brings the party to Coliseum on Friday night.

"Lil’ Wayne is one of my best friends and they’re trying to say that they got into the concert because they’re SMU football players. That’s how stupid the stuff is,” Sanders told the Dallas Morning News at the time.

The rapper also came out in support of Sanders when the former FSU star was looking for a college head coaching position. Sanders talked to FSU about its vacancy after Willie Taggart was fired midway through his second season as head coach in 2019. The Seminoles hired Mike Norvell away from Memphis. 

Lil Wayne wrote in a tweet in Nov. 2019: "Mannnnnn!!!!! @DeionSanders gotta be the HC at FSU! It’s only right. What’s right is right. That’d be great for the university, fans, football, and most importantly the student athletes. I’d send my sons to play for Coach Prime fr fr! #ItsTimeforPrime"

The rapper also made a Tallahassee visit in 2015 to the Coliseum, a since-closed nightspot that catered to students.

Sanders was hired at Jackson State last September and is a first-time head coach at the collegiate level.

Prior to beginning preparations at Jackson State, Sanders finished out his season as the offensive coordinator at Trinity Christian School in Cedar Hill, Texas. His team traveled to Tallahassee in October and played Gadsden County, coached by good friend and former FSU and NFL star Corey Fuller. 

Former FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who has said Sanders is the "greatest athlete" he ever coached, is also confident Sanders will do a good job at Jackson State. 

"When you think about it, anything Deion said he would do, he'd back it up," Bowden told The Democrat. "I got a feeling he will do just fine. That's good to hear and it's nice to see him in college football."

Sanders made a plea to the public for himself this week after he had a boombox stolen from his truck outside a Jackson, Mississippi, hotel on Monday. Sanders said he wasn't concerned about the damage, but offered a reward for the boombox's return because it was a birthday gift from a friend and had sentimental value.

Sanders' plea worked as he posted to Instagram Tuesday afternoon that the radio was returned along with a note that was left outside one of the campus' entrance gates.

"They say they didn't know, but I ain't trippin' over no bread," the note reads. "Just please bring back hope (to) Jackson. A winning season would be great."

Sanders said he's happy the community worked to get his property back, and that it was proof the city could work toward making itself a better place to live.

"Jackson, Mississippi, I just wanna tell y'all something, man," he said. "I love you, I appreciate you, I'm proud of you, and the thing I admire most ... is how we all came together."

- Ed Reed of the The News Press (Fort Myers) contributed to this report. 

Reach Jim Henry at jjhenry@tallahassee.com.

Full Lil Wayne Pardon Text

President Donald J. Trump granted pardons to 73 individuals and commuted the sentences of an additional 70 individuals. The pardon for rapper Lil Wayne referenced Deion Sanders.

Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. – President Trump granted a full pardon to Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., also known as “Lil Wayne.”  Mr. Carter pled guilty to possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon, owing to a conviction over 10 years ago.  Brett Berish of Sovereign Brands, who supports a pardon for Mr. Carter, describes him as “trustworthy, kind-hearted and generous.”  Mr. Carter has exhibited this generosity through commitment to a variety of charities, including donations to research hospitals and a host of foodbanks.  Deion Sanders, who also wrote in support of this pardon, calls Mr. Wayne “a provider for his family, a friend to many, a man of faith, a natural giver to the less fortunate, a waymaker, [and] a game changer.”

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: How Deion Sanders helped secure a pardon from Donald Trump for rapper Lil Wayne

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