A contrite Shaquille O’Neal has apologized for mocking a Warren, MI man with a rare genetic condition on social media.
Jahmal Binion was born with ectodermal dysplasia, an inherited disease that can cause disfigurement that the executive director of the National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias says often subjects those with the condition to a lifetime of bullying and hurtful comments.
Under the handle @SHAQ, the former NBA basketball star Tweeted: “Made a new friend today when I called an apologized to Jahmel Binion. Great dude.#alwayslearning #MYBADCUZ.”
It appears that O'Neal has removed the Instagram image posted on his Twitter account.
Earlier, @WakaFlockabsm Tweeted, in part: “Right I wanna apologize to #JahmelBinion for being a ass and making a mockery of him.”
In an open letter to O'Neal, National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias Executive Director Mary Fete publicly shamed the athlete for posting the hurtful image and said her organization was “terribly disappointed” in such conduct by a public figure of O’Neal’s stature.
“Bullying is never acceptable and we, as a nation, have had some devastating consequences as a result of bullying,” Fete wrote. “However, to be called out on a celebrity’s social media and made fun of is especially reprehensible.”
She challenged O’Neal, whose net worth is estimated at $350 million, to use his wealth to make a difference in Binion’s life.
“You might want to consider making something positive come from this,” Fete challeged O’Neal. “Consider giving Jahmel Binion the gift of a smile, one that others would not make fun of. Give him a smile that would give him confidence and pride.”
She also urged him to attend the group’s national conference in July in Columbus, OH, where families affected by the condition will gather.
For his part, Binion has taken the social media slams with grace, establishing the “Hug Don’t Judge” social media campaign in response to what Fete characterized as cyberbullying.
On the Facebook page, which was created Saturday and already has nearly 10,000 members, are dozens of testimonials and stories from people who faced bullying because they are perceived as different.
This raises the question:
- Have Shaquille O’Neal and Waka Flocka sufficiently apologized? How can they use their celebrity to advance anti-bullying causes? Tell us below in the comments.