Former NBA all-star turned broadcaster Shaquille O'Neal was one of three people who apologized to a Detroit man this week who suffers from a rare genetic disorder that causes abnormalities with his teeth and hair.
Jahmel Binion, 23, suffers from ectodermal dysplasia, which is an inherited disorder that involves defects in the hair, nails, sweat glands and teeth.
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Binion told MLive.com
that he recently discovered that his Facebook photo, which shows his teeth, was mocked by O'Neal, current NBA star Trey Burke, a former University of Michigan star who now plays for the Utah Jazz, and rapper Waka Flocka.
"I was confused," Binion said, referring to when he first saw O'Neal's Instagram post, which has since been taken down. "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 foundation posted an open letter to O'Neal on its website, chiding the former NBA star and supporting Binion's "Hug Don't Judge" anti-bullying campaign.
"To be called out on a celebrity's social media and made fun of is especially reprehensible," Mary Fete, the foundation's executive director, wrote. "We applaud Jahmel for reacting to this cyberbullying by establishing a positive social media campaign called 'Hug Don't Judge.' Mr. O’Neal, we welcome this opportunity to enlighten you about the ectodermal dysplasia and how we could work together for positive change."
O'Neal and Burke apologized publicly on Wednesday.
The rapper apologized first on Twitter on Tuesday, posting, "Right I wanna apologize to #JahmelBinion for being a(n) a** and making a mockery of him #SaluteLiLHomie #WeAllTheSame Waka Flocka."
The Detroit Free Press reported that Binion’s Facebook
group grew to nearly 10,000 members by Thursday afternoon with supporters around the country leaving messages of encouragement, some who said they have the same affliction.
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