Jahmel Binion suffers from a disorder that has caused him to be teased ever since he was a child. He never dreamed that his hero, Shaquille O’Neal, would join in on the cruel laughter, but that’s exactly what happened, and now the basketball star is taking a lot of criticism over it.
Binion says people started recognizing him from an Instagram photo that Shaq posted where he contorted his face next to Jahmel’s picture with the caption, “smile today.” Former University of Michigan athlete Trey Burke and rapper Waka Flocka Flame joined in on the mockery before he eventually deleted the offending picture.
From the NY Post:
With missing teeth and abnormal hair growth caused by the rare disorder ectodermal dysplasia, the Michigan man is used to getting bullied – but Shaq’s mockery was too much to bear.
He considered Shaq his basketball idol and respected the former high-profile athlete’s charitable works and advocacy for disadvantaged children in America.
“I’ve been getting teased since I was yay (sic) tall. People laugh at me, stare at me,” Binion said. “I was kind of hurt because I’ve always looked up to him. I’ve watched Shaq play basketball since I was (inaudible), so I was like, why are you making fun of me? He is supposed to be this role model.”
In response to the bullying, Jahmel is trying to put the hurtful event behind him by moving on with a more positive message. He wants to turn this terrible experience into something that can help others by beginning an anti-bullying campaign called Hug Don’t Judge:
“I can’t let it get to me, because then I get hurt and depressed,” he said.
With almost 5,000 members in his group now and a plethora of pictures of perfectly happy people with similar disorders, it’s great to see everyone overcome the awful cruelty in such an upstanding way.