Friday, August 1, 2014

Disabled man sues Shaq for mocking him on Instagram: Report

It looks like only an apology and a phone call won't get former NBA star and renowned jokester Shaquille O'Neal out out of Twitter foul trouble this time.

You may remember Shaq's Instagram photo mocking a disabled 23-year-old man's selfie in April. Shaq's twisted facial expression mimicking Jahmel Binion gained more than 14,000 likes — with basketball player Trey Burke and rapper Waka Flocka Flame joining in on the teasing.

After a public backlash, the post was deleted and Shaq and Burke apologized to Binion — a man who suffers from hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia . 

However, the Michigan man has filed a lawsuit in Macomb County alleging that O’Neal, Burke and Waka Flocka Flame intentionally inflicted emotional distress, invaded his privacy and defamed him, Macomb Daily reported.

In the lawsuit, Binion claims the mocking photos "constituted a public disclosure of embarrassing private facts about the plaintiff" and "placed plaintiff in a false light in the public eye."

Binion was diagnosed with the affliction as a baby, a disorder which causes sparse hair growth, missing teeth and facial deformities. He was hurt to see thousands of Internet users mock his picture and deformities after Shaq's post.

The one-time Shaq fan said he struggles to hold down a job and can't work in hot conditions. 

Binion told My Fox Detroit: "I've been getting teased since I was yea tall — people laugh at me, stare at me.

"I was kinda hurt because I look up to him and I watch Shaq play basketball so I was like, why is he making fun of me when he's supposed to be this role model?"

The National Foundation for Ectodermal Dysplasias wrote an open letter to O'Neal saying "bullying is never acceptable," after many Instagram and Twitter users demanded Shaq apologize for the photo.

A few days later, after deleting the post, Shaq said he called Binion to say sorry.

"Made a new friend today when I called and apologized to Jahmel Binion. Great dude," he tweeted with the hashtags #alwayslearning and #MYBADCUZ.

He followed up with another tweet that said: "Had the opportunity to talk to Jahmel Binion yesterday and apologize about the post on IG!"

O'Neal spokesman Rishi Daulat told The Associated Press that the star personally wrote the tweets. 

Instead of hiding away, Binion has used the unwanted publicity to start a campaign raising awareness of his condition.

A Facebook page for his Hug Don't Judge campaign has gained more than 22,000 fans and supports anti-bullying and cyber bullying organizations.

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