Ex-NBA Superstar Shaquille O'Neal has been under fire after posting on his Instagram a picture that mocked Jahmel Binion, a person with disability suffering from ectodermal dysplasias or abnormal development of physical features.
The Instagram photo featured Shaq distorting his face and smiling to look like the selfie of 23-year-old Binion he had posted earlier on his public account.
O'Neal's over 500,000 followers on Instagram and Twitter were quick to react about the degrading and mean post of the ex-NBA star. Comments flooded criticizing Shaquille O'Neal for being insensitive and bully.
Realizing the gravity of his mistake, O'Neal instantly took down the photo and apologized to Binion. In a tweet, Shaq said: "Made a new friend today when I called and apologized to Jahmel Binion. Great dude."
"Had the opportunity to talk to Binion yesterday and apologize about the post on IG!" a later follow-up tweet on the incident was posted.
Binion's disabilitiy called ectodermal dysplasias disallowed him to grow his hair and teeth. It also affects the victim's face to look larger than the average size.
Binion reported to MLive.com that he was "confused" when the ex-NBA player posted the mocking picture on his public Instagram account.
"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...everyone who follows him 'will think,"We should do this.'"
Meanwhile, the National Foundation for Extodermal Dysplasias has penned an open letter on Monday addressed to O'Neal saying "bullying is never acceptable."
Binion was taken aback when thousands of Internet users imitated and mocked the selfie which he posted on his own account. The greatest shock, however, came when Shaq posted his own derogatory mocking selfie because of his influence and role as a supposed exemplar to people.
He has since taken the incident in a positive way. The 23-year-old has used the publicity garnered to set up a campaign on Facebook to raise awareness on the disorder.
Upon its inception, the page has already garnered 3,500 supporters. The "Hug Don't Judge" Facebook page aims to cease the bullying that most disabled people experience.