And the insensitivity award goes to … Shaquille O’Neal.
The former NBA star mocked a Michigan man with a rare disease on his Instagram page the other day, but apologized about it on Twitter.
O’Neal posted a picture of himself making a face to imitate 23-year-old Jahmel Binion who suffers from ectodermal dysplasia. This type of disability can cause abnormalities with the teeth, sweat glands, hair, face and nails. Binion is unable to sweat and has to spend most of the summer in places that have air conditioning.
Binion posted a screen shot Monday of the photo of O’Neal mocking him.
“I was confused,” Binion said of his first reaction to Shaq’s insult. “I was thinking ‘Man, he’s supposed to be this role model, someone everyone is supposed to look up to.’ If Shaq does something like this, then (everyone who follows him) will think ‘We should do this.'”
The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasia wrote an open letter to O’Neal that encouraged the former basketball star to learn about the disease and stressed its support of Binion.
O’Neal called Binion to apologize for his behavior, according to the athlete’s post on Twitter and Binion’s post on Facebook.
— SHAQ (@SHAQ) April 30, 2014
“Shaq contacted me and apologized for his actions,” Binion wrote on Facebook. “He now understands that his actions were wrong and not only did they hurt me but my entire NEED family.”
Binion created an anti-bullying Facebook campaign called Hug Don’t Judge, which gained an outpouring of support over the last few days. He hopes O’Neal will support his campaign.
Here’s what Twitter said about Shaq’s actions:
— Fátima (@backatone000) April 30, 2014
Shame on Shaquille O'Neal for mocking Jahmel Binion. The apology took far too long. http://t.co/j2xYsfERGd
— Patrick (@LeftistLemur) April 30, 2014
Has far more class and strength than a professional basketball player and popular rapper! YOU should be the one looked up to #JahmelBinion
— Ali-O (@Ali_O79) April 30, 2014
— Shannon (@sem1178) April 30, 2014
Binion will share his story in an MLive.com live chat this afternoon to educate others about the rare disease in which he suffers.
“It feels like I’m not alone,” Binion said. “People are supporting my side of the story.”
Image via YouTube